Monday, 23 December 2013

Role of ICTs in Early Warning of Climate-Related Disasters: A Sri Lankan Case Study

By Kanchana Wickramasinghe
IPS Researcher 

Need for an effective disaster early warning system for Sri Lanka was re-emphasised during the devastative storm which caused a number a deaths, a couple of months ago. The frequency and intensity of natural disasters in Sri Lanka including cyclones, floods and landslides are on an increasing trend, due to the impacts of global climate change (Ministry of Environment, 2010).  While a number of strategies are necessary to address growth in climate-related natural disasters, an effective early warning system can play a crucial role in lessening the probable negative impacts.

The traditional ways of disseminating disaster early warnings in Sri Lanka have been through radio and television, military forces and early warning towers.  However, during a disaster situation, there may be constraints in delivering the message, as mass media channels are not always switched on and the other approaches have limited reach.  Recent developments have shown that the information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used effectively to disseminate disaster information.  However, developing countries in most of the cases are faced with resource constraints for the establishment and implementation of disaster early warning systems. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Use of Traditional Paddy Cultivation as a Means of Climate Change Adaptation in Sri Lanka

By Chatura Rodrigo

Paddy occupies approximately 37 per cent (0.77 million ha) of the cultivated land area of Sri Lanka.     It is cultivated during two major seasons; Yala and Maha, where a majority is cultivated during the latter. Close to 1.8 million farm families are dependent on paddy farming throughout the country. The demand for paddy in Sri Lanka will increase at a rate of 1.1 per cent per year, which requires production also to increase at a rate of 2.9 per cent per year. Therefore not only is paddy the staple food of the country, but its cultivation is the livelihood of a significant portion of people (DSC, 2013). 

The ‘green revolution’ of the early 1960s, supported by agricultural policies such as fertilizer subsidies, placed Sri Lanka on the fast track to becoming a production economy. With subsidized fertilizer and the establishment of irrigation schemes, farmers were given the motivation to be more production oriented. These heavy production agricultural methods in the paddy sector were supported by the new and improved high yielding varieties. Even though these new improved paddy varieties were short termed and high yielding, they were chemical fertilizer and labour intensive and posed a negative externality to the environment (Wiggins and Brooks, 2010). Most importantly, these new improved production incentive paddy varieties and agricultural practices were not resilient towards climate change impacts.

Climate Change Models Shift Boundaries of Agro-Ecological Zones in Sri Lanka

By Muththuwatta, L.P. and Liyanage, P.K.N.C.

Climate change models for Sri Lanka suggest that profound and complex changes in rainfall patterns are becoming a reality.. It’s never too early to consider what this means and how it could impact agriculture and therefore all of us. 

The news that climate change will affect Sri Lanka’s weather will surprise very few these days. However, a recent study1 projecting rainfall distribution patterns in Sri Lanka for 2050 warns that climatic zones could shift. It also suggests that the intensity of rainfall will vary more greatly than observed over recent times. The findings reported by Muththuwatta and Liyanage, have important implications for agriculture – from farmers to policymakers.

With global temperatures warming over the past century, Sri Lanka has already displayed its share of signs of climate change. The resulting extreme weather events have even now affected agricultural production. Concerns for water and food security for a projected global population of 9.6 billion in 2050 are high. In its 2007 assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the nature of changes will vary across different geographical regions and development statuses. It added that the way regions respond and adapt will also affect climate change.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Certified Emission Reduction (CERs) Trading with EU Emission Trading System (EU-ETS): Are Developing Countries in a Crisis?

By Chatura Rodrigo
IPS Researcher 

Emission Trading Systems (ETSs) allow economies to trade the Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) through an open market mechanism. Countries engaging in Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) projects generate CERs and then trade them, allowing project implementers to make profits while reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union’s Emission Trading System (EU-ETS) was the main market place to trade the CERs generated through these CDM projects.

However, in their 2013-2020 agenda, the EU-ETS decided to only allow the trading of CERs that are being generated through CDM projects implemented in Least Developing Countries (LDCs).  Currently China and India are the main traders at the EU-ETS, and will definitely be affected by this decision. The first part of the article will provide a glimpse of the history of CERs, and how that developed into a market mechanism.  Next section will briefly introduce the EU-ETS and its importance to developing countries as a means of trading CERs. The latter part of this article will look at two decisions that the EU-ETS had taken, and how they will affect developing countries that are engaged in CDM projects particularly from a Sri Lankan perspective, as a country that is increasingly encouraging CDM projects. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Need for Climate Change Resilience in Urban Infrastructure: A Closer Look at Sri Lanka

By Chatura Rodrigo
IPS Reseracher 


Rapid urbanization has aggravated the deficiencies of basic services and infrastructure in the developing world, particularly in the Asia and Pacific. In many of these countries, evolving infrastructure can be particularly climate-sensitive and therefore highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Because climate-related events cut across socio-economic sectors and administrative jurisdictions, they can jeopardize development objectives in distant places. Public infrastructure tends to be multifunctional in nature and serves a range of diverse stakeholders spread over a wide geographic area; directly or indirectly providing critical services to the areas they cover. Interruptions in services can cause negative economic impacts over a large territory. The lack of reliable services impedes a country’s ability to pursue development goals. For this reason, it is vital that development strategies incorporate efforts to increase the climate resilience of infrastructure, especially taking into consideration the risks of climate change.

Multiple Actors: The Challenge of Building Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in Sri Lanka

By Centre for Poverty Analysis[1]

Climate change is a global phenomenon that is predicted to disproportionately impact low and middle income nations who have less economic stability and greater levels of poverty. Poor communities within these societies who are least able to withstand external shocks will face the brunt of the impact. They will need support from the state and non-state actors to be better prepared, protected and enabled to recover from these shocks. This situation challenges developing countries to meet economic and social development agendas while reducing or minimizing the impact on the natural environment. It is challenging developing countries to adopt sustainable pathways to development that try to achieve a sustainable balance between human and environmental wellbeing. In Sri Lanka, efforts to put in place more sustainable practices and to address climate change are taking shape. Various interventions are advocated and are being tested from policy to practice, involving a range of stakeholders or “actors”. This essay examines how different levels of actors attempt to address climate change. It uses an actor-based approach to analyze what enables or impedes adaptation for different levels of actors and draws from a study carried out within the context of agriculture, fisheries, and tourism livelihoods in coastal areas of Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Sri Lankan Perspective on Clean Development Mechanism: Approach Towards Climate Change Mitigation

By Chatura Rodrigo
 IPS Researcher 

Background: Introducing the CDM

As defined by Article 12 in the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nation Frameworks Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) are one of three flexible mechanisms established with the purpose of assisting Annex I countries of the UNFCC to archive their committed amount of emission reduction in cost effective ways.  It also allows contributions for the sustainable development of Non Annex I countries such as Sri Lanka.

The CDM is one of the Protocol's "project-based" mechanisms; in that the CDM is designed to promote projects that reduce emissions. The CDM is based on the idea of emission reduction "production". These reductions are "produced" and then subtracted against a hypothetical "baseline" of emissions. The emissions baselines are the emissions that are predicted to occur in the absence of a particular CDM project. CDM projects are "credited" against this baseline, in the sense that developing countries gain credit for producing these emission cuts.

Since 2001, the CDM projects have issued 1 billion Certified Emission Reduction (CER) units. Approximately, 63% of all CERs had been issued for projects based on destroying either Hydrofluorocarbons (42%) or Nitrous Oxide (21%), which is a conventional way of creating CERs.  However, at the moment, the European Commission is proposing a full ban on CER’s from industrial gas projects. More than 1,000 CDM projects have qualified for carbon credits.  Most of these are large-scale activities in the energy sector; in the waste sector, subsidized technologies include landfill gas, incineration, and cement kilns.  India and China are the biggest takers, with a combined share of more than 50% of the projects.  With some 3000 more projects awaiting registration, the CDM expects to generate nearly 3 billion CERs by 2012. Trade in CERs currently runs to an estimated US$ 10 bn a year.  This has fueled a gigantic, global carbon trading market that is raking in huge profits for financing companies, consulting firms, brokers, and other market players. Currently there are five exchanges trading in carbon allowances: the European Climate Exchange, NASDAQ OMX Commodities Europe, PowerNext, Commodity Exchange Bratislava, and the European Energy Exchange.