Sea-Level Rise in Small Island Nations – Up to Four Times the Global Average – to Cost US$ Trillions in Annual Economic Loss and Impede Future Development: Shift to Green Policies and Investment Critical
Bridgetown, 5 June 2014 – Climate change-induced sea-level rise in the world’s 52 small island nations – estimated to be up to four times the global average – continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development; with annual losses at the trillions of dollars due to increased vulnerability. An immediate shift in policies and investment towards renewable energy and green economic growth is required to avoid exacerbating these impacts, says a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
In all SIDS regions, coral reefs, the frontline for adaptation, are already severely impacted by rising sea surface temperatures. The global net loss of the coral reef cover – around 34 million hectares over two decades – will cost the international economy an estimated US$11.9 trillion, with Small Island Developing States (SIDS) especially impacted by the loss.
In the insular Caribbean, for example, up to 100 per cent of coral reefs in some areas have been affected by bleaching due to thermal stress linked to global warming. Climate threats are projected to push the proportion of reefs at risk in the Caribbean to 90 per cent by 2030 and up to 100 per cent by 2050.