Baseline Study on Climate Change in French Polynesia

Version française


Baseline Study on Climate Change in French Polynesia (French version - 10 july 2010)

Climate change Network

Bibliography on climate change in French Polynesia

Ministry Council Communication presenting the baseline study project

Preliminary study presenting the baseline study project


Climate change is a major global problem. Over the coming decades, the international scientific community predicts increasing average annual temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and intensification of tropical cyclones. Due to its geographical characteristics and main economic activities, French Polynesia is particularly vulnerable to all of these likely impacts. With its South Pacific neighbors (mostly small island developing states), French Polynesia is one of the most sensitive countries in the world to the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases.

In spite of French Polynesia's high vulnerability, there is limited data on the local impacts of climate change, and what knowledge exists is very fragmented. Adapting to climate change will be unavoidable for all South Pacific nations, and yet there is no specific strategy in place to guide French Polynesia through this challenging period. While small islands are not major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms, mitigation policies also serve to reduce their dependency on expensive imported carbon fuels and are thus a vital component of sustainable development. Furthermore, with its strong connections to European and American science, French Polynesia is well placed as a research laboratory for renewable energies, particularly those based on advances in marine engineering.

Signatories of the Kyoto Protocol committed to produce « National Climate Change Communications», under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While politically part of the France, French Polynesia was not mentioned in the French National Communication, neither has French Polynesia produced such a document independently. Consequently, French Polynesia is less present in international debates and forums on climate change than its vulnerability warrants. Indeed, a recent IUCN/EU conference recognized that Europe's overseas territories, in general, are not receiving the financial and technical support needed to build their own climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.

This project aims to carry out a Baseline Study on Climate Change in French Polynesia in order to help address some of these issues.



Through local and international consultation, we will: 1) identify the main challenges climate change presents for French Polynesia, 2) propose potential adaptive responses to the major threats, and 3) raise awareness of the risks climate change poses for the socioeconomic well-being of the Polynesian people.

1) What challenges does climate change present for French Polynesia?

Following the protocols provided by UNFCCC for national climate change communications, we will review and compile existing scientific and technical data on the likely impacts of climate change in French Polynesia. We will also examine the contribution of the country to global climate change (greenhouse gas emissions).

2) How can French Polynesia adapt to climate change?

The Baseline Study will provide local decision makers with the information they need to prepare for the possible impacts of climate change, enabling them to put in place effective adaptation and mitigation strategies. We will analyze any ongoing measures, recognize best practices, and identify research gaps and needs. The report will provide recommendations, propose potential actions, and identify possible funding sources.

3) Promote local consultation on climate change in partnership with an international experts network.

To help raise awareness of climate change issues among decision makers and the general public, the Baseline Study will create a "Climate Change Task Force" for French Polynesia. The task force will consist of government agencies, local scientists, and other stakeholders, closely connected to an international network of climate change experts. A brochure aimed at raising public awareness will be produced and other media initiatives planned.

The following partners have already indicated their support for this study: UNFCCC, IUCN, ONERC, European Commission, French Ministry for Environment and for Overseas Territories, inter alia.


Three main products form the output of the Baseline Study and each will be adapted to their target audience (technical or non-technical). The products will include written publications, digital media, and oral presentations:

a) Report: "Baseline Study on Climate Change in French Polynesia"

This publication will be of approximately 50 pages and will follow the same structure used by the Kyoto Protocol's signatory countries in their National Climate Change Communications, which are produced in partnership with UNFCCC.

- Executive Summary
- Local context
- Inventory of Green house gas emissions
- Policies and measures (mitigation and adaptation)
- Projections
- Vulnerability assessment
- Research and systematic observation
- Education, training, and public awareness
- Financial resources

b) A brochure on climate change in French Polynesia

A summary brochure of approximately 4 pages for a non-technical audience covering:
- Meteorological scenarios for French Polynesia
- Main challenges and threats for the country
- Public awareness for adapting to the impacts of climate change
- Daily actions to control green house gases' emissions

c) Oral presentation of the study's results

A report of the study's main results will be presented to the Polynesian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Task Force on October 13 2009.


The project has been initiated in February 2009 and will take seven months with the Baseline Study submitted to Ministry of Environment by 10 July 2009.


The study is based at the University of California Berkeley's Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station in Moorea, French Polynesia and researchers work closely with other local research institutions.

Two researchers experienced in climate change science and international development policy conduct the study: Eleonora Avagliano and Jérôme Petit working under the supervision of Gump Station Director Dr. Neil Davies. The Moorea-based team is advised by Dr. Daniel Kammen, a Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). Dr. Kammen also advises the U. S. and Swedish Agencies for International Development, the World Bank, and is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group III and the Special Report on Technology Transfer).

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