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Because of sea level rise, a fifth of the area of the Caribbean island of Bonaire is at risk of being swallowed by water. This is the result of a new study conducted by the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam on behalf of the environmental organization Greenpeace. If global warming is not reduced, part of the island may have disappeared into the sea by the end of this century.
Coral reefs around Bonaire will also disappear as a result of climate change. Coral reefs act as breakwaters and protect the island’s inhabitants from flooding.
Researchers from VU analyzed the impact of different climatic scenarios on the island. The results were examined in 2050, 2150 and 2300.
If global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, as stipulated by the Paris climate agreement, the consequences are manageable. But with the temperature rising to 2.7 degrees or more, there are fears of more dangerous scenarios. With a warming of 4.4 degrees, the capital, Kralendijk, as well as the lower southern tip of the island could be flooded.
The researchers wrote: “If no action is taken, the coastline will change dramatically. After that, Bonaire will become a much smaller island.” Moreover, according to forecasts, the floods will become more severe if the island experiences storms.
In the most extreme scenario (a warming of 4.4 degrees) a large portion of the corals would die. As a result, a large number of diving spots disappear, causing a decline in tourism. In addition to the economic consequences, researchers also warn of damage to health (eg due to heat stress) and damage to infrastructure.
To date, little is known about the consequences of climate change in the special Dutch municipalities of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius.
“So far, Dutch climate research has neglected the Dutch Caribbean islands, including Bonaire. This report is an important first step to changing that,” says Peter van Beeukring, Professor of Environmental Economics and Director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences. Environmental Issues (IVM).
KNMI previously concluded that the Caribbean islands are sensitive to climate change. In addition, coral reefs are at risk of disappearing due to sea level rise as well as ocean acidification and warming. Institute in 2017.
Greenpeace to court
Last June, Representatives Sylvana Simmons (Big 1) and Lammert van Raan (Christian Democrats) asked parliamentary questions in response to a new report from the UN Climate Panel IPPC. “The IPCC report contains disturbing information on the climatic impacts of climate change on small islands such as Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba,” Climate Minister Gettin said.
The government has indicated that it wants to focus on a maximum of 1.5 degrees of warming. Greenpeace considers this insufficient and calls on the Dutch Cabinet to take action in response to the investigation. Together with the islanders, the environmental organization wants to go to court to enforce this.
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