- - Friday, October 10, 2014

In a worst-case scenario, global warming would prove disastrous for Suriname. Rising sea levels from melting glaciers, ice caps, and the oceans’ thermal expansion would cover large portions of the low-lying coastal country and flood the capital of Paramaribo.

Paramaribo, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, will most likely disappear,” if global-warming trends continue, said Sieuwnath Naipal, Professor at the Anton de Kom Univeristy of Suriname and Environment Adviser to President Desir Bouterse. “We will have to spend an inordinate amount of our current and future GDP to protect ourselves against the inevitable impacts of sea-level rise.”

A 2007 World Bank study ranked Suriname, as one of the seven countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels. Paramaribo, a city of 250,000, is located near the coast along the banks of the Suriname River.

Regarding climate-change trends, Professor Naipal explained: “The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the unabated emission trajectory that the world is currently on (and not showing any signs of slowing down I might mention), has placed humanity on a path towards 4+ degrees average rise in temperature, which in turn will result in significantly higher sea level rise than was previously projected.”

Stopping human activities contributing to global warming is one way to stop rising temperatures. Accordingly, Surinamese officials are working in the United Nations to create a consensus on combating global warming, a problem for which industrialized nations are mostly responsible because of their CO2 emissions. The top five are: China, United States, India, Russia and Japan.

Aside from these industrial polluters, developing countries that permit the destruction of their forests also have their share of responsibility, a problem that is “responsible for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Naipal.

Suriname, for its part, is considered one of the world’s “greenest” countries, he noted. It has up to eight percent of the world’s pristine tropical forests. Preserving this resource is not only done out of a sense of environmental responsibility, but because forests play a major role in combating global warming by exchanging CO2 and other greenhouse gases for breathable oxygen.

Suriname is deploying her forests in the fight against climate change,” said Cedric Nelom, Acting Director of the National Institute for Environment and Development (NIMOS). “The Surinamese forests are currently absorbing more carbon dioxide than the country is emitting, effectively making Suriname one of the few carbon-negative countries in the world.”

To this end, Suriname participates in an international mechanism designed to reduce greenhouse gases, which it does by stopping the destruction of forests; and hence the mechanism’s acronym: REDD+ which stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.” Created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the objectives of REDD+ are to combat climate change with rules for the responsible management of forests in developing countries.

“So by virtue of our commitment to REDD+ and maintaining our standing forests to the best of our ability, we are in fact continuously serving as both a carbon sink, as well as a vast reservoir of carbon,” Nelom said.

And by doing this, of course, Suriname helps to keep rising oceans at bay and out of Paramaribo.

This article was produced in conjunction with The Washington Times International Advocacy Department.

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