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

Vanuatu’s contribution to man-made global emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG)
is minute by international standards. Most emissions come from the combustion of
fuels for transport and electricity generation, with carbon dioxide the predominant
GHG emitted. Given the small proportion of the population with ready access to
transport and electric supplies, the importance of expanding these services for
economic and social development, and the dependence of Vanuatu on imported
technology and equipment, neither an absolute reduction in national GHG emissions
nor a reduction in GHG emissions per head of population is an immediate goal.
However strategies to promote electricity generation from solar, wind and tidal
current energy sources in association with phased adoption of international best
practices for power generation and engine design will minimise increases in GHG
emissions. At present GHG Inventory is too crude to allow useful prediction of the
level at which Vanuatu’s emissions will peak or when this will occur.
National concern in this first report to the COP is focused on the potential impacts of
climate change given the population’s dependence on rain fed agriculture and
subsistence gardening, the limited surface and ground water resources and the
social and economic impacts of tropical cyclones. There is insufficient data at
present to quantify impacts, to identify areas of high vulnerability and hence design
appropriate adaptation policies. The action plan consequently emphasises activities
that will address this lack of data and strengthens national capacity, especially at a
national and provincial level, to meet this challenge.
The vulnerability of Vanuatu to sea-level change will, for the most part, be
determined by the nature of ongoing development and the way in which Vanuatu
manages its environment and resources. However, impacts will be inequitably
spread through the islands of Vanuatu, with localised areas on low lying islands and
areas experiencing subsidence due to tectonic and volcanic processes being most
severely affected. In future plans the government will consider sea level change
scenarios, and adopt strategies to minimise vulnerability of any new investments in
infrastructure and services. Recognising this, further work is required to analyse the
combined impacts of sea level change and tectonic processes on an island by island
It is recognised that possible impacts of climate and sea-level change on the wellbeing
of ni-Vanuatu people and their environment are immense. However, when
considered in conjunction with social and economic development needs, as well as
the nation’s cultural and social aspirations, the dilemma for planners and government
is how to divert scarce economic and human resources from immediately pressing
development needs to prepare for the less tangible and longer term impacts of
climate change. One option recognised in this first report to the COP is to integrate
climate change considerations with multi-sectoral activities, and to institutionalise
integrated social, environmental and development planning.
Due to Vanuatu’s limited technical and financial capacity and the global nature of
climate change and sea level impacts there is a role for further international
cooperation in meeting these goals and on-going work to minimise increases in

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