V. CONSIDERATION OF MULTILATERAL TRADE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS IN DOMESTIC POLICY FORMULATION
The annual emission of several billion tons of GHGs, mainly carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs into the atmosphere, principally from fossil fuels and biomass combustion as well as agricultural activities, is expected to cause severe changes in the Earth's climatic system including global warming and a rise in sea level. To avoid such a disaster, and on the initiative of the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, the international community adopted the Framework Convention on Climatic Change at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Sri Lanka became a signatory to that Convention and ratified it in 1993. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, the biophysical impacts related to the of climate change will generally manifest themselves in almost every sector of the economy.
In the agriculture and forestry sectors, there could be both direct and indirect impacts. Direct impacts will result from increased carbon dioxide levels, which affect photosynthesis, and rising temperature which, in turn, cause heat stress and increased evapo-transpiration in crops. Indirect impacts will result from changes in moisture levels, an increased incidence of pests and growing spoilage of agro-products as a result of enhanced microbial activity. These effects could result in reduced yields and shifts in productivity.
Changes in rainfall patterns and increased temperature could have a direct impact on water resources, leading to their decline in general. The patterns of floods, droughts, storms and cyclonic activity could change, leading to major implications with regard to the drinking water supplies, hydropower generation, irrigation activities, and threats to life and property.
A rise in the sea level would have repercussions for coastal ecosystem management, aquaculture and urban water supplies as a result of enhanced salinity levels and the inundation of low-lying coastal areas. The latter problem would also affect the extent of beaches, beach erosion, river run-off, human settlements, coastal structures, highways and railways. Offshore effects would likely include heightened growth of phytoplankton, declining fish yields and changes in marine migratory patterns.
Both human and animal health are also vulnerable to climate change. The incidence of the more common vector-borne diseases such as malaria and filariasis could increase. Other vector-borne diseases, such as encephalitis and dengue fever, could also increase. In addition, frequent heat waves and fresh-water shortages will take their toll.
According to the Sri Lanka country report in "Climate change in Asia" by ADB, assessing the impacts of future climate change is an undertaking filled with uncertainty. Although the rates of GHG increases are known, it is not known whether the rate will continue. In addition, the sensitivity of the climate to changes in GHGs is still unknown.
According to current climate change predictions (tables 10 and 11) for Sri Lanka, the effects of climate change by the year 2010 will be marginal, reaching only +0.50C for temperature increase and +5 per cent for evaporation/rainfall (wet season only) in the high scenario. However, in the scenario for 2070 the changes become quite significant.
The trends shown in tables 10 and 11 also suggest that within the averages, the intensity of dry weather and rainfall may increase. Therefore, climate change could have increasingly significant effects even in the scenario for the year 2010. Studies on weather patterns and crop yields for the past years have shown that drought affects tea by reducing the yields. On the other, irregular patterns of rainfall and high seasonal concentrations in the wet zone, with attendant increases in run-off ratios, could result in soil erosion, land degradation and the loss of productivity in the case of tea.
The Framework Convention on Climatic Change was adopted with the objective of stabilizing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Developed country parties (those listed in Annex 1 of the Convention) are required to reduce their GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. However, there is no such requirement for developing countries (i.e., non-Annex 1 parties). Under the Convention, every party is required to submit a national communication to the Climate Change Secretariat before a stipulated date, including: (a) a national inventory of anthropogenic emissions and removals of all GHGs; (b) a general description of steps taken or envisaged to implement the Convention; (c) any other information (which may include technical and financial needs) relevant to achieving the objectives of the Convention.
Initiatives taken by Sri Lanka under the Framework Convention on Climatic Change
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, as the national focal point for implementing the Framework Convention on Climatic Change, appointed an Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Climate Change, chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry. The Committee has initiated bilateral programmes with India and the United States of America, and coordinated the preliminary study on climate change sponsored by ADB, as part of a regional programme.
To achieve the objectives of the Convention, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry recognized that an action plan was needed which outlined the measures that the country planned to take in mitigating emissions and adapting to any adverse impacts. In early 1996, the Interministerial Coordinating Committee appointed a Steering Committee for the purpose of preparing NAPCC. The Steering Committee chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry, comprises high-level representatives of several government agencies, universities etc.
As far as the plantation sector (including tea) is concerned, the Ministry of Plantation Industries is responsible for the task of preparing the sectoral plan. In undertaking the task, the Ministry will: evaluate plantation mitigation, vulnerability, and adaptation technologies and measures; prepare the plantation sector part of the action plan; and integrate it with other national plans. Similar exercises are being undertaken by other responsible ministries for their specialized sectors.
In preparing the initial draft of the sectoral plans, each responsible ministry selects senior officers from the departments and institutions which are within their purview, and co-opts specialists from other institutions such as universities and NGOs, to form working groups to assist in the task.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka are responsible for assessing the impact on the national economy and for developing policy measures on adapting to adverse impacts, in order to integrate climate change concerns into medium and long-term planning. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry coordinates all related activities, compiles the NAPCC based on inputs from individual working groups, and prepares the national communication required under the Framework Convention on Climatic Change.
An initial workshop was held to apprise members of the working groups of the issues involved in climate change studies such as GHG inventories, vulnerability assessments, mitigation and adaptation measures etc. The workshop was open to other interested parties, both in the government and the private sector.
In assessing the technologies available for mitigation and adaptation, the various economic, environmental and social impacts are being given due consideration. Priority areas in each sector are selected by the working groups after consultations with all stakeholders in the sector through workshops and individual meetings. Efforts are also being made by the Steering Committee, through the Framework Convention on Climatic Change Secretariat, to obtain contact points overseas for technology transfer. The Steering Committee will provide inputs for the preparation of the first national communication.
The broad objectives of the NAPCC are:
The ADB-supported study on climate change identified the lacunae in current knowledge of climate change impacts in Sri Lanka. Therefore, as a follow-up measure, further studies have been carried out on:
The above studies are being conducted by researchers attached to three universities, the Institute of Fundamental Studies and CISIR. The results of the GHG inventory will be utilized in identifying the mitigation options available to the various sectors. Furthermore, as a commitment under the Framework Convention on Climatic Change, the GHG inventory has to be updated periodically; hence the need to sustain this activity beyond the country studies programme has been recognized. In addition, since the mitigation elements identified under the country studies programme and vulnerability assessments cover only a few sectors, there is scope for further study.
Based on the findings of the individual sections of the action plan, the Steering Committee will prepare the draft national communication. For that purpose, the Steering Committee will take into account the Framework Convention on Climatic Change Secretariat guidelines and format. The draft plan will be made available for public comment and subsequently discussed at a public seminar. The Steering Committee will then prepare the final version of the national communication for submission to the Climatic Change Secretariat. Its anticipated date of completion was the end of 1997.
The framework of the national communication was expected to include:
Since the implementation of the action plan requires substantial amounts of public funds, and once the priority areas are identified, the Steering Committee will select those projects which may need support in developing full project proposals. Support by the public will also be solicited for the implementation of the plan through seminars and presentations in the electronic and print media.
The constraints faced by Sri Lanka in incorporating the issues pertaining to the Framework Convention on Climatic Change into domestic policy formulation relate to:
In that connection, technical assistance is required for: