Caribsave says 49% of resorts will be damaged or destroyed by a 1 metre sea level rise lethal cocktail
Dr Murray Simpson of Oxford University and Caribsave talked to Vision today from the Cancun COP16 climate change conference. He said that the new report was prepared on a robust actuarial basis rather than a broad brush approach and clearly highlights the danger the Caribbean is now in. He emphasized the fact that smaller islands will be disproportionately affected and that the lethal cocktail of high water levels, coastal erosion and storm surges could reap catastrophic damage in the area.
One to two metres of sea level rise by the end of this century, due to climate change, is a likely prospect and the effect on the Caribbean would be quite disastrous.
The future horror story for Caribbean tourism according to the new report:
- Sea level rise will be relatively more pronounced in the Caribbean than other coastal areas of the world
- The Bahamas, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Belize are anticipated to suffer the greatest economic losses and damages while the proportional economic impacts are higher in the smaller economies of St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent and The Grenadines and Grenada.
- Low level agricultural land will be damaged by storm surges as well as salt water penetration
- A one-metre sea level rise will make over 100,000 people homeless
- Caribbean storm events will assume greater prominence and create a lethal cocktail of adverse weather effects
- One metre sea level rise combined with erosion will damage or destroy 49% of the major tourism resorts in CARICOM countries
- Erosion associated with a 2metre sea level rise (or a high estimate for a 1m SLR), would result in an additional 106 resorts (or 60% of the region’s coastal resorts) being at risk.
- Beach assets so critical to tourism would be affected much earlier than the erosion damages to tourism infrastructure, affecting property values and the competitiveness of many destinations.
- Beach nesting sites for sea turtles were also at significant risk to beach erosion associated with SLR, with 51% significantly affected by erosion from just 1 metre sea level rise. Two metres would risk over 60%
- 301 km of new or improved coastal defences would be required to structurally protect these Caribbean cities from SLR projected for the 21st Century. The construction costs are estimated at between US $1.2 and US $4.4 billion. Annual maintenance of these protection schemes is estimated at US $111 to US $128 million.
- The potential capital costs include dryland losses (US $9.4 to US $21.3 billion in 2050, US $30.1 to US $60.6 billion in 2080) and rebuild costs of tourist resorts (US $10 to US $23.2 billion in 2050 and US $24.5 to US $74 billion in 2080).
- Much of the overall capital costs were concentrated on 5 countries; The Bahamas (airports, tourism and dryland), Jamaica (sea ports, tourism and dryland), Trinidad and Tobago (dryland and tourism), Belize (tourism and dryland) and Haiti (dryland and property).
- Countries with tourism dependent economies, such as St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, were particularly affected with high annual costs due to degrading beach assets and inundation.
Says the report “There can be no other conclusion than projected sea level rise would be nothing short of transformational to the economies of CARICOM nations. The costs of losses and damages resulting from unprotected coastlines and the costs of protecting high-value urban coastlines and strategic infrastructure will have a major impact on individual communities and national economies.”
“And without significant support from the international community, the resource allocations needed for coastal protection alone represents a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and more broadly severely impedes the pursuit of sustainable development.”
Valere Tjolle is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report