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An assessment of the economic impact of climate change on the Agriculture, Health and Tourism sectors in Jamaica

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An assessment of the economic impact of climate change on the Agriculture, Health and Tourism sectors in Jamaica

Corporate author: NU. CEPAL. Sede Subregional para el Caribe Physical Description: 18 p. : tables, figures. Editorial: ECLAC, Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean Date: October 2011 ECLAC symbol: LC/CAR/L.338


This report analyses the agriculture, health and tourism sectors in Jamaica to assess the potential economic impacts of climate change on the sectors. The fundamental aim of this report is to assist with the development of strategies to deal with the potential impact of climate change on Jamaica. It also has the potential to provide essential input for identifying and preparing policies and strategies to help move the Region closer to solving problems associated with climate change and attaining individual and regional sustainable development goals. Some of the key anticipated manifestations of climate change for the Caribbean include elevated air and sea-surface temperatures, sea-level rise, possible changes in extreme events and a reduction in freshwater resources.
The economic impact of climate change on the three sectors was estimated for the A2 and B2 IPCC scenarios until 2050. An evaluation of various adaptation strategies was also undertaken for each sector using standard evaluation techniques.
The outcomes from investigating the agriculture sector indicate that for the sugar-cane subsector the harvests under both the A2 and B2 scenarios decrease at first and then increase as the mid-century mark is approached. With respect to the yam subsector the results indicate that the yield of yam will increase from 17.4 to 23.1 tonnes per hectare (33%) under the A2 scenario, and 18.4 to 23.9 (30%) tonnes per hectare under the B2 scenario over the period 2011 to 2050. Similar to the forecasts for yam, the results for escallion suggest that yields will continue to increase to mid-century.
Adaptation in the sugar cane sub-sector could involve replanting and irrigation that appear to generate net benefits at the three selected discount rates for the A2 scenario, but only at a discount rate of 1% for the B2 scenario. For yam and escallion, investment in irrigation will earn significant net benefits for both the A2 and B2 scenarios at the three selected rates of discount. It is recommended that if adaptation strategies are part of a package of strategies for improving efficiency and hence enhancing competitiveness, then the yields of each crop can be raised sufficiently to warrant investment in adaptation to climate change.
The analysis of the health sector demonstrates the potential for climate change to add a substantial burden to the future health systems in Jamaica, something that that will only compound the country’s vulnerability to other anticipated impacts of climate change. The results clearly show that the incidence of dengue fever will increase if climate change continues unabated, with more cases projected for the A2 scenario than the B2. The models predicted a decrease in the incidence of gastroenteritis and leptospirosis with climate change, indicating that Jamaica will benefit from climate change with a reduction in the number of cases of gastroenteritis and leptospirosis.
Due to the long time horizon anticipated for climate change, Jamaica should start implementing adaptation strategies focused on the health sector by promoting an enabling environment, strengthening communities, strengthening the monitoring, surveillance and response systems and integrating adaptation into development plans and actions. Small-island developing states like Jamaica must be proactive in implementing adaptation strategies, which will reduce the risk of climate change. On the global stage the country must continue to agitate for the implementation of the mitigation strategies for developed countries as outlined in the Kyoto protocol.
The results regarding the tourism sector suggest that the sector is likely to incur losses due to climate change, the most significant of which is under the A2 scenario. Climatic features, such as temperature and precipitation, will affect the demand for tourism in Jamaica. By 2050 the industry is expected to lose US$ 132.2 million and 106.1 million under the A2 and B2 scenarios, respectively. In addition to changes in the climatic suitability for tourism, climate change is also likely to have important supply-side effects from extreme events and acidification of the ocean. The expected loss from extreme events is projected to be approximately US$ 5.48 billion (A2) and US$ 4.71 billion (B2). Even more devastating is the effect of ocean acidification on the tourism sector. The analysis shows that US$ 7.95 billion (A2) and US$ 7.04 billion is expected to be lost by mid-century.
The benefit-cost analysis indicates that most of the adaptation strategies are expected to produce negative net benefits, and it is highly likely that the cost burden would have to be carried by the state. The options that generated positive ratios were: redesigning and retrofitting all relevant tourism facilities, restoring corals and educating the public and developing rescue and evacuation plans. Given the relative importance of tourism to the macroeconomy one possible option is to seek assistance from multilateral funding agencies. It is recommended that the government first undertake a detailed analysis of the vulnerability of each sector and, in particular tourism, to climate change. Further, more realistic socio-economic scenarios should be developed so as to inform future benefit-cost analysis.

Table of contents

.--1. Executive Summary.--2. Brief Review of the Sectors.--Future Climate Scenarios.--4. Methodologies.--5. Economic Impact Assessment of Climate change on the Agriculture, Health and Tourism Sectors.--6. Adaptation Strategies.--7. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations.