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Nicaragua - Climate

Nicaragua asserted that climate justice will only come about when the global south works together, so it refused to sign the COP21 agreement [along with Syria]. The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in December 2015. Dominated by the agenda of rich Western countries, this process promoted a system of non-binding voluntary commitments known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement is non-binding. That is the fundamental reason Nicaragua believed it will fail.

Nicaragua is one country that has explicitly rejected the Paris Agreement. Dr. Paul Oquist, Nicaragua's representative to the COP21 summit, argued that the Paris Agreement will definitely not meet its target limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius. Oquist explained that the operational details of the agreement indicate a likely average increase in the range of 2.7 degrees Celsius to 3.5 degrees Celsius. He was referring to conclusions from reports such as the one by the UNFCCC Secretariat issued just before the Paris summit last December, which states that based on information of proposed reductions in carbon emissions, The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100."

Oquist said "Beautiful speeches but we have to see the mechanism though, because the way things stand now the agreement will take us to a 3 degrees Celsius world and in most of the developing countries that becomes 4 degrees Celsius and quite obviously that's absolutely unacceptable. That is a threat to our agriculture. That's a threat to our cattle grazing. That's a threat to our fisheries, to our forestries."

"A lot of developing countries have conditioned their INDCs on receiving finance and that finance is nowhere to be seen. Then also you have the fact that the low levels of ambition have led us to this 2.7 degrees Celsius to 3.5 degrees Celsius temperature range instead of the 1.5 degrees Celsius the developing countries want and the 2 degrees Celsius that the developed countries want."

"The 10 largest emitters are responsible for 72 percent of the emissions. The 100 smallest are responsible for 3 percent of the emissions.... But it's not doable because there's no willingness to make any sacrifices on the policy sphere and that's why we have this very poor level of ambition ... It's a matter of the developing countries surviving. 4 degrees Celsius is not a survival track for Africa, but a track for hell, with the Sahara advancing. 4 degrees Celsius is not a survival track for India and Pakistan with the glaciers melting in the Himalayas. 4 degrees Celsius is not a survival track for South East Asia with the typhoons."

Nicaragua also criticized the Paris Summit's failure to create a mechanism to ensure the creation of the proposed US$100 billion fund to be contributed by wealthy developed countries to finance the costs of adaptation to climate change by impoverished developing countries. In Nicaragua's case, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has estimated the cost of adaptation at almost US$2 billion, just under 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product or more than a whole year of the Nicaraguan government's budget. That is without the additional costs of increasingly more frequent natural catastrophes. The cost to Nicaragua of recovering from Hurricane Mitch in 1998 ended up being around US$3 billion.

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega insisted in his message to the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, The government and people of Nicaragua hope that from the Paris COP21 Conference will emerge a commitment to climate justice along with an indispensable indemnification policy, converted into direct and unconditional cooperation. Those responsible for the emissions, and responsible for the climate depredation, degradation and dislocation must recognize our losses and contribute to recovery so as to reinstate the right to health and to life of our Mother Earth and of the peoples of the world. The main crops at the national level are corn, beans, rice and sorghum. Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climatic variability due to the fact that it relies mostly on rainfall. In rural Nicaragua, 25% of farming households experience chronic or temporary food insecurity. On average more than 50% of their income generated through farming and agriculture is almost completely rain-fed, with less than 2% of households reporting the use of irrigation. In this context, the impacts of climate change can be severe.

Based on climate scenarios developed for the elaboration of the First national Communication for the next 100 years, the following climatic changes with relevance to agriculture are to be expected in Nicaragua:

  • increases in temperature it is probable that the temperature will increase by 0.9C in the Pacific side and by 0.8C in the Caribbean side by 2010, 2.1C (Pacific) and 1.9C (Caribbean) by 2050 and by 3.7C (Pacific) and 3.3C (Caribbean) by 2100 according to the most pessimistic scenario.
  • decreases in precipitation it is probable that the average annual precipitation will decrease from 8.4% (2010) to 36.6% (2100) on the Pacific side and from 8.2% (2010) to 35.7% (2100) on the Caribbean side, according to the most pessimistic scenario. The most significant precipitation changes are to be expected in regions of the country that are currently relatively dry, such as the northern municipalities of Chinandega and Len.
  • decreased cloud cover it is probable that a reduction in cloudiness will occur from 3.6% (2010) to 15.6% (2100) on the Pacific side and from 4% (2010) to 17.2% (2100) on the Caribbean side according to the most pessimistic scenario.

In recent years (between 2000 and 2008), storms and floods have had the highest human and economic impact in Nicaragua, with losses for the period 1997-2006 averaging at 2.71% of GDP 221,472 people have been affected by storms (3 events) with the cost of damages reaching US$ 3 million and 24,000 people have been affected by floods (1 event) with the cost of damages reaching US$ 50,000.

For many one of the best features of this country is the climate. Those living in the lowlands and along the coast enjoy a warm, tropical climate great for swimming and water sports. People living in the more mountainous highland areas are able to escape some of the heat.

Temperature varies little with the seasons in Nicaragua and is largely a function of elevation. The tierra caliente, or the "hot land," is characteristic of the foothills and lowlands from sea level to about 750 meters of elevation. Here, daytime temperatures average 30C to 33C, and night temperatures drop to 21 C to 24C most of the year. The tierra templada, or the "temperate land," is characteristic of most of the central highlands, where elevations range between 750 and 1,600 meters. Here, daytime temperatures are mild (24C to 27C), and nights are cool (15C to 21C). Tierra fria, the "cold land," at elevations above 1,600 meters, is found only on and near the highest peaks of the central highlands. Daytime averages in this region are 22C to 24C, with nighttime lows below 15C.

Rainfall varies greatly in Nicaragua. The Caribbean lowlands are the wettest section of Central America, receiving between 2,500 and 6,500 millimeters of rain annually. The western slopes of the central highlands and the Pacific lowlands receive considerably less annual rainfall, being protected from moisture-laden Caribbean trade winds by the peaks of the central highlands. Mean annual precipitation for the rift valley and western slopes of the highlands ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 millimeters. Rainfall is seasonalMay through October is the rainy season, and December through April is the driest period.

During the rainy season, eastern Nicaragua is subject to heavy flooding along the upper and middle reaches of all major rivers. Near the coast, where river courses widen and river banks and natural levees are low, floodwaters spill over onto the floodplains until large sections of the lowlands become continuous sheets of water. River bank agricultural plots are often heavily damaged, and considerable numbers of savanna animals die during these floods.

The coast is also subject to destructive tropical storms and hurricanes, particularly from July through October. The high winds and floods accompanying these storms often cause considerable destruction of property. In addition, heavy rains (called papagayo storms) accompanying the passage of a cold front or a low-pressure area may sweep from the north through both eastern and western Nicaragua (particularly the rift valley) from November through March. Hurricanes or heavy rains in the central highlands, where agriculture has destroyed much of the natural vegetation, also cause considerable crop damage and soil erosion.

In 1988 Hurricane Joan forced hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans to flee their homes and caused more than US$1 billion in damage, most of it along the Caribbean coast. The passage of Hurricane Mitch through Central America in October and November 1998 caused widespread and devastating flooding and landsliding. The fierce storm that swept through the country killed more than 3,000 people, left 150,000 people homeless, and washed away roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals. The severe flooding alone affected more than 25,000 people and damaged over 3,000 houses, hampering reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Mitch. Additionally, droughts and flooding from Hurricane Michelle in 2001 added to the humanitarian, economic and social problems initially brought on by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. These disasters, added to other serious natural disasters during the intervening years, produced major problems in food insecurity and unemployment of citizens.

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