International Stakeholders Draw Attention to Fast Emerging Climate Change Impacts

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Conservation International (CI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and EU-Liberia Climate Alliance+ have prepared a 161-page analysis of Liberia’s 2015 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) following an inception workshop with local stakeholders including civil society, the government, youths, women groups, the private sector and people living with disabilities, and provided recommendations that will form the starting point for stakeholder consultations and technical input to strengthen the initial climate plans developed before Liberia signed the Paris Agreement.  

The Liberian Nationally Determined Contribution seeks to reduce greenhouse gases that are linked to climate change by 15% below business as usual by 2030 with long-term goals of carbon neutrality by 2050 and ensuring the resilience of the country’s communities and natural systems. 

Even though Liberia has no significant contribution to activities including greenhouse emission that facilitate climate change; it is, nevertheless, a vulnerable country affected by climate change.

According to a release from the Conservation International (CI), the update process coincides with heightening climate change threats against Liberia that it is least able to adapt to. 

CI and other stakeholders believe that if not well managed, climate change threatens to depress socioeconomic development and worsen food insecurity, access to water, erosion and flooding of the country’s highly populated coastlines among other devastating impacts.

The release further indicates that the revision process on Liberia’s climate change status provides an opportunity to further reduce the already relatively low greenhouse gas emissions in priority sectors including energy, agriculture, forestry, waste and transport, and putting the country firmly on a low carbon pathway in line with the Liberia’s sustainable development priorities.

The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) that Liberia has committed to, include  targets of improving energy efficiency by 20$ through energy-saving cook stoves, increasing renewable energy generation to 30%, transitioning to 3.5% bio fuel use in transport and capturing landfill gas to use for bio gas and power generation.

Climate change’s characteristics are eminent in Liberia nowadays; unusual sunshine at the time when rain should be actually falling, non-withstanding storms damaging houses, and floods have been observed as some basic factors reminding Liberians about climate change.

Although Liberia does not contribute much in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, there are other environmental factors farmers, miners, and others are contributing to the problem.  Random cutting down of the vegetation (forest degradation), clearing of the forest for building infrastructures or other purposes (deforestation), filling up of wetland for building houses, and encroaching on the mangrove swamp that experts say is responsible for the consumption of 30 to 50 percent of the carbon dioxide exposed in the atmosphere are some activities contributing to the effect of climate change on Liberia.

These activities are directly associated with the local land users; something that makes it important to be a part of the workshop leading to analysis of the 2015 Nationally Determined Contributions to make an informed and implementable decision on what can be done to mitigate the impact and effect of climate change on Liberia.

“This is especially important since Liberia is home to globally-important natural resources including 49% of the Upper Guinean forests and mangroves that are helping to slow climate change by storing huge amounts of carbon. The country needs support to conserve and sustainably manage these resources as a global climate solution while meeting the socioeconomic needs of Liberians. Conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems have been shown to provide at least 30% of the solution to tackling climate change,” said the CI release.

According to CI and the rest of the Climate Change Alliance+ stakeholders, One of the challenges facing climate action in developing countries has been absence of reliable data to track progress in NDC implementation. Currently, the EPA and CI Liberia are co-executing a project to strengthen the country’s institutional and technical capacity to monitor and report NDC mitigation and adaptation actions through effective collection and dissemination of quality data. This is implemented under the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and feeds into the NDC update process.

“The NDC revision process and climate action,” the CI release said, “Will also ease pathways towards achieving the country’s sustainable development goals including reducing poverty and hunger, enhancing access to water, ensuring healthy terrestrial and ocean ecosystems, healthy livelihoods, and gender equality.”

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