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In 2015, Seychelles, along with another 195 countries, came together in Paris for the Climate Change Conference. History was made when an agreement was reached by all countries present, named the Paris Agreement, to collectively tackle climate change. The target goal was specific; to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, and even attempt to aim for a 1.5 °C limit.

The Paris Agreement also had the countries agree to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development. Limiting warming to 1.5 °C would require halving emissions by 2030, then reaching near-zero levels by 2050.

At the heart of the Paris Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which is a document each of the 196 countries submits every five years for review, which outlines exactly how they intend to contribute to reducing the earth’s temperature and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The first NDCs were submitted in 2015 (they were then referred to as the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) and the second submission is scheduled to take place in February 2021.

Nationally Determined Contributions – what exactly are they?

NDCs are climate actions which governments commit to. Collectively, these climate actions determine whether the world achieves the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. Each climate plan reflects the country’s ambition for reducing emissions, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities. Seychelles’ NDC is very different from those of a rapidly developing country like China. The extent to which we contribute to gas emissions is, again, insignificant compared to large industrial nations (The emissions of Seychelles are less than 0.003% of global emissions). Seychelles’ Government has focused on both adaptation (anticipating the effects of climate change and addressing them before they happen) and mitigation (actual reduction in gas emissions) plans. One example is implementing an ecosystem-based approach to watershed management which will have implications for food supply as well as water security.

A Reminder – Climate Change could eradicate us

The earth’s temperature since 1900, has increased by 2°C already. The human factor in the cause of this is due to the rapid increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere which has warmed the planet at such an alarming rate. Small islands states and their people are living this reality. Uncommon weather patterns and high tides that get more daringly close to land each time are some of the effects which we are already experiencing. For Seychelles, an increase in the average global temperature of 2 °C spells out catastrophic consequences for us. We can start with our marine ecosystems right down to coastal infrastructures which will be unlikely to survive the rise in sea-level. It really is a matter of survival for us.

The Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project

With 1.4 million km2 of water, it is no surprise that our ocean has something incredible to offer to the climate change fight. To date, the ocean has absorbed much of the increased heat, with the top 100 meters of ocean showing warming of more than 0.33°C in the past 50 years. Seagrass meadows, usually found in shallow, tropical waters, have been found to have contributed significantly to the intake of carbon from our atmosphere. Scientists have figured out how to measure how much carbon seagrasses absorb which means that they can be properly studied and be included as part of our climate action plan – an which will be included in our NDCs in February 2021. Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) is undertaking the project which is determining the coverage and carbon storage capacity of Seychelles’ seagrasses.

Next month: More on Seagrasses