“Climate Change is affecting everyone in the island, especially our people’s livelihoods in regards to disaster.”
– Polikalepo Kefu, Tonga 350 Country Coordinator.
What is Tonga 350 all about?
Tonga 350 was first established in 2010, and has since had many members come and go. Despite the fact that our member base has seen some turnover, Tonga 350 is still going very strong! We want to keep recruiting for 2014, and our first goal of the year is to sit down with new members to set up a proper communication channel by which we can discuss 2014’s activities!
What climate changes are occurring in Tonga, and what’s next?
- Nuku’alofa’s annual rainfall has decreased, but extreme rainfall days will increase: While dry season data shows little trend, there has been a clear reduction in wet season rainfall in the region of Nuku’alofa. However, climate change is expected to facilitate more days of extreme rainfall.
- Temperatures have increased, with more very hot days to come: By 2030, it’s expected that if emissions continue on trend, Tonga will have warmed by up to 1.1°C. As temperatures continue to increase, so will the amount of very hot days.
- Sea levels are rising: Satellite data indicates that the sea level around Tonga has risen by 6mm per year since 1993, about double the global average. In Ha’apai, coastal erosion has carved up to 40m of land off the island. Fuka Kitekei’aho, Tonga’s national co-ordinator of the Pacific Adaptation Strategy Assistance Program, says the rising sea level is compounding other issues on the island (source here).
More detailed information from the Australian Government’s ‘Pacific Climate Change Science Program’ can be downloaded here –> Tonga Climate Change Factsheet PDF.
What is the Tongan Government’s official position on climate change?
In 2010, the Tongan government developed the joint national action plan on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, for the period of 2010–2015. In addition, the government mainstreamed climate change into its new forest policy, which you can read about by clicking this link.
What’s next for Tonga 350?
Tonga 350’s country coordinator Polikalepo is attempting to make 2014 the group’s best ever, using his current connections and ties with the Tonga Red Cross Society and those made from his previous work with the Tonga National Youth Congress to encourage more Tongans to get involved. We hope that by educating the next generation of Tongans to the impacts of climate change, the country will be better prepared to deal with the hotter temperatures and extreme weather events, such as Cyclone Ian.
So, is climate change noticeably affecting Tonga now?
While no one extreme event should be attributed to climate change, more intense storms such as Cyclone Ian (effects pictured below) would be devastating for the island. Polikalepo was fortunate enough to visit the Ha’apai group of islands, Tongas most vulnerable region to the effects of coastal erosion. The recent cyclone and accompanying winds are made worse here due to the rising sea level, which gives storm surges a headstart. As the IPCC state; as sea level increases the chances of extreme sea level events, such as inundation due to storm surges from typhoons and other storms, increases sharply.
Contact Tonga 350
It’s best to contact us by joining our facebook group at TONGA 350. Please join it to receive updates and information. We’d love to hear from you! Additionally you can email Poli at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our new communications coordinator Taufu’i at email@example.com