Belize First National Communication to the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Belize, Government of (2002) Belize First National Communication to the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Technical Report.

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    The energy that drives the earth/atmosphere system comes from the sun. Most of this energy arrives in the form of short-wave radiation. This radiation passes through the atmosphere virtually unimpeded except for most of the harmful ultraviolet radiation, which is absorbed in the upper atmosphere by ozone. The short-wave radiation is absorbed at the earth’s surface, which becomes warmer. The earth in turn radiates most of this energy as long-wave radiation upward into the atmosphere. Certain gases in the atmosphere called greenhouse gases absorb some of this energy. This warms the atmosphere. In the absence of these greenhouse gases, the earth/atmosphere system would be too cold to support life. The excess energy is radiated out to space and the earth/atmosphere system is maintained in radiative balance. The levels of greenhouse gases remain in equilibrium naturally. Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is soluble in water, and the oceans are its largest reservoir. Carbon dioxide is also an integral part of the plant growth/decay cycle through photosynthesis. However, since the dawn of the industrial revolution, the levels of greenhouse gases have increased. These increases have been scientifically measured at observing sites around the world. The increased levels of greenhouse gases are trapping more of the earth’s long-wave radiation producing warmer global temperatures. This has caused the water in the oceans to expand and water stored in the polar ice caps and glaciers to melt, resulting in sea level rise. In 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was convened to provide scientific advice and guidance on climate change. In 1995, the IPCC noted that there was sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that mankind was having a discernable influence on the earth’s climate. In 1990, the international community responded to the concerns raised about climate change and convened an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to draft a convention to address climate change. Belize signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 together with the leaders of the other Central American nations. This was done to show that Belize recognized that the challenges of climate change were an international matter that required concerted action. Belize ratified the Convention in 1994. As a signatory, Belize recognizes its common but differentiated responsibility to contribute to the international effort to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention: “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system…within a timeframe sufficient to allow eco-systems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”(UNFCCC). As a non-Annex I Party, however, Belize must have “access to the resources to achieve sustainable social and economic development” (UNFCCC) since as a developing country the overwhelming obligation of the nation is poverty alleviation and sustainable economic development. Therefore, Belize is not obliged to limit its emissions of greenhouse gases. Among its obligations, Belize is required to periodically prepare a National Communication detailing what measures it is taking to address climate change. This includes a national inventory of sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. In 1998, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) provided funds through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for an enabling activity to assist Belize in preparing its National Communication.

    Item Type: Technical Reports (Technical Report)
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: Government of Belize
      Keywords: convention, climate change, framework, communication,
      Subjects: (B) Climate Change > (BA) Adaptation
      (B) Climate Change > (BB) Climate Related Risks & Impacts
      (B) Climate Change > (BC) Mitigation
      (B) Climate Change > (BD) Other
      (B) Climate Change > (BE) Vulnerability
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3A) Government Departments
      Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2010 15:48
      Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 14:53

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