The Dominican Republic’s climate is already changing significantly and is projected to change even more through the century. Since the 1960s, mean annual temperature has increased by approximately 0.45ºC, with more intense warming in the summer (June, July, August) and the fall (September, October, November). Minimum temperatures are projected to further increase between 1 and 3 °C by 2050 and by 2 to 6 °C by 2070, and maximum temperatures between 2 and 3 °C by 2050 and between 3 and 5 °C by 2070 , .
In addition, a slight reduction in total precipitation has already been observed, with increased dry periods in the north of the country. The dry season (December-April) may be further intensified by 2050 and 2070, and the volume of rainfall at the onset of the rainy season might increase by 2050 and onwards. The country-wide mean total annual rainfall is expected to decrease by 15% by 2050, and by 17% by 2070, compared to the 1961–1990 average. However, regional disparities are projected: the southern and western parts of the country will be most affected by a decrease in rainfall, but the eastern and northern parts might even experience a small increase , .
As a consequence , evaporation is likely to increase, inducing additional water stress; sea-level rise will likely exacerbate coastal flooding and beach erosion; the intensity of tropical storms and their accompanying precipitation will increase, thus increasing the frequency and intensity of floods; the possibility of hotter and drier conditions in the Yaque del Norte river will further strain groundwater availability; and increased evaporation and seawater intrusion will likely impact ground water recharge and quality, affecting water supply for the residential, agriculture, and tourism sectors.
Such climatic changes and climate-related hazards will directly or indirectly impact the country’s environment and key sectors of its economy and society. The 2016 National Adaptation Plan  and other assessments ,  concluded that the most significant impacts are likely to occur in water supply for human consumption, tourism, agriculture and food security, health, biodiversity and forests, coastal and marine resources, infrastructure and human settlements, and electricity generation.
Agricultural production (and the cost of produce) is largely determined by weather conditions and adversely affected by extreme weather events such as floods and droughts (which also increase the incidence of pests), in addition to market and other economic factors. This poses vulnerability and instability on agricultural producers as well as reductions in the consumers’ purchasing power and access to food. The increasing degradation of water quality in Dominican water bodies, together with the shortened useful life of reservoirs due to land degradation driven by unsustainable agricultural practices, threaten food security. This will be exacerbated by the projected increases in drought conditions and water stress.
Climate change could increase the frequency of epidemics. Changes in temperature and precipitation would facilitate the spread of vector- and water-borne diseases (e.g., zika, chikungunya, dengue, cholera, and other diarrheic diseases) hantavirus, and rotavirus.
An assessment of the vulnerability of the country’s biodiversity to climate change showed that all the Dominican ecosystems and species will be exposed, by 2020, to extreme bioclimatic conditions — compared to the usual ones in their current home ranges. Critical areas include the Los Haitises and its surroundings, as well as coastal and marine ecosystems. Projected increases in temperature might change the species composition and productivity of freshwater ecosystems. Projected changes in temperature and rainfall might modify hydrological processes that could, in turn, adversely affect lakes and lagoons. As the primary productivity of Dominican forests is strongly determined by climatic conditions, they will likely be impacted by the projected changes in temperature and precipitation.
The Caribbean is one of the world's tourist destinations most vulnerable to climate change and its consequences such as warmer summers, increased number of extreme events, water scarcity, loss of marine biodiversity, rising sea level, disease outbreaks, heat shocks, and others. Sun-and-beach is the major tourism offer (Bávaro-Punta Cana, Las Terrenas, and Puerto Plata-Sosúa-Cabarete) in the Dominican Republic and will likely be affected by the projected changes in climate.
Over 60% of the country’s population is concentrated in urban areas, most of them located along the coast or in areas highly exposed to extreme hydro-meteorological events. Their vulnerability to these hazards is further increased by the degradation of coastal environments caused by poor land management practices. Projected impacts on coastal-marine systems include flooding due to sea level rise, beach erosion, coral bleaching, mangrove degradation, with impacts on coastal populations and the tourism industry.
Thirteen provinces (Pedernales, Bahoruco, Barahona, Elías Piña, El Seibo, Santo Domingo, La Altagracia, San Pedro de Macorís, Monte Plata, Peravia, Monte Cristi, and Valverde) were identified as the most vulnerable, due to their inherent exposure and sensitivity to hydrometeorological events, coupled with their low adaptive capacities and land degradation therein . Marginal populations (such as those located in urban areas of Los Mina, Hoyo de Puchula, Fracatán, La Esperanza, and el Hoyo de Elias) as well as small-holder farmers are the most sensitive to the impacts of floods, droughts, landslides, and others. Due to already existing pressures from development projects, overfishing, and other threats, coastal zones (particularly mangroves and coral reefs) are highly sensitive to sea-level rise and more intense storms , , .
The Dominican Republic has contributed very little to global warming . Yet, the country’s geographical position, together with its insular status, make the Dominican Republic highly vulnerable to climatic changes such as temperature increase, sea level rise, rainfall variability, and increased intensity and frequency of hydrometeorological phenomena such as droughts and tropical storms.
Total GHG emissions in 2015 were estimated at 35.49 Mt of CO2e (less than 0.1% of global GHG emissions) and per capita emissions at 3.45 t of CO2e (compared to the average of 10.92 t of CO2e per person in OECD countries for the same year). Between 2010 and 2015, total GHG emissions in the country had increased by 18.85%.
The energy sector was the country's main emitter in 2015, contributing 62.75% of total GHG emissions. Due to the continued increase in energy consumption, its emissions grew 18.05% since 2010. Functioning as a net sink of GHG, the AFOLU sector contributed -24.76% to the total GHG balance in 2015. The waste sector contributed 15.71% to total GHG emissions in 2015; 68.63% of these emissions came from solid waste disposal and 31.37% from wastewater treatment and disposal. Due to the increase in population size and the amount of waste generated, emissions from this sector increased 7.7% since 2010 .
Key policies and governance approach
The Dominican Republic signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1998 and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. In compliance to its obligations to the convention, the Dominican Republic has submitted three national communications in 2003, 2009, and 2017. The first Biennial Update Report was submitted in 2020 . The BUR included an updated (as for 2015) National GHG emissions Inventory, described progress made on constructing a national Measurement, Reporting, and Verification system, as well as an analysis of the limitations, barriers, needs, and opportunities for climate change mitigation.
The Dominican Republic ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017 and, in honouring the agreement, submitted an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution in 2015 and a revised, more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution in 2020 . In its updated NDC , the Dominican Republic pledged to unconditionally reduce GHG emissions by 7% and conditionally reduce an additional 20.16% by 2030, relative to the 2030 business-as-usual reference scenario.
To fulfil this pledge, the Dominican Republic’s NDC identified a number of sectoral mitigation actions to be implemented over the 2021-2030 period. These include improvements in electricity generation (conversion of fuel-oil power plants to use natural gas, setting up wind and photovoltaic farms and small-scale biomass-based power plants, expanding hydro and combined cycle power plants, launching a new natural gas power plant, etc.); energy efficiency (replacing low-efficiency air conditioning units, replacing low-efficiency domestic fridges, setting more strict standards for public lighting and industrial engines, etc.); transport (e.g., expanding the Santo Domingo subway system and building a new cable railway line; renewing the taxi cab fleet and implementing BRT, electric school bus systems as well as electric and bicycle mobility schemes in major cities, etc.); industrial processes and products; agriculture, forestry, and other land uses; and waste management.
Adaptation measures related to water and food security, public health, resilient cities, coastal and marine resources, tourism, and ecosystems, biodiversity and forests were also identified.
The country has also been building up a policy and institutional framework to comply with the objectives of the UNFCCC, the 2030 Agenda, and its own national development goals. The Plan for an Economic Development Compatible with Climate Change (Plan DECCC)  was launched in 2011. The DECCC Plan set strategic guidelines for a sustainable development model, taking local needs and international agreements into account. Regulatory and economic instruments (e.g., incentives, taxes, and regulations) to support such strategies were created, including a carbon tax on motor vehicles according to their CO2 emissions and incentives for the production and use of renewable energy. The National Climate Change Policy  was formulated and adopted in 2015 with the purpose of managing anthropogenic climate variability, mainstreaming adaptation to climate change as a cross-cutting policy in the National Development Strategy 2030, and developing the policy and institutional framework for a low-carbon, climate change resilient development. The National Plan for Climate Change Adaptation 2015–2030  was approved in 2016.
Implementation of climate change-related policies is jointly led by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Council for Climate Change. The Council was created in 2008 with the purpose of articulating and coordinating the efforts made by all the relevant government institutions (Presidency, Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, Economy, Planning and Development, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Industry, Trade, and Public Health and Social Assistance) to address climate change.
SUCCESSES AND REMAINING CHALLENGES
As reported in the BUR , the Dominican Republic has made significant progress in constructing the policy and regulatory framework for climate change mitigation as well as in developing and implementing a GHG emissions registry and inventory and an MRV mechanism. In addition, several sectoral (energy, transport, AFOLU, and waste) mitigation actions have been identified and their implementation scheduled for the 2021–2025 period; REDD+ preparation actions are in course.
The financial needs for implementing both the unconditional and conditional mitigation actions envisioned in the Dominican Republic’s updated NDC were estimated at USD 8.917 billion. Implementing the adaptation measures identified in the NDC would require additional investments for about USD 8.716 billion .
Initiatives and Development Plans
The Dominican Republic has registered six Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) projects before the UNFCCC, as of March 2019; all the projects are in the preparation stage or seeking financing for their preparation or implementation. A seventh NAMA project is being formulated. A bilateral NAMA, funded by the German IKI initiative, is being implemented and two others have been submitted to the NAMA-Facility of Germany and the United Kingdom by IDDI and Fundación Sur Futuro.
The Dominican Republic is also engaged in the REDD+ preparation process. A first forest inventory (as of 2018) and studies for formulating the REDD+ strategies were recently completed; the reference level is being determined, and the mechanism for the social and environmental assessment of REDD+ projects is being designed .
Goals and Ambitions
Overall, the fourth strategic axis of the National Development Strategy 2030  envisions attaining a society with a culture of sustainable production and consumption, that manages risks and protects the environment and natural resources with equity and efficiency, and promotes adaptation to climate change. Its General Objective 4.2 aims for an efficient risk management to minimize human and economic loss and environmental damages; its General Objective 4.3 aims for an adequate adaptation to climate change.
- Given the country’s rather insignificant GHG emissions, as opposed to its substantial vulnerability to climate change and climate-related hazards, perhaps more attention should be paid to supporting climate change adaptation rather than mitigation.
- The National Plan for Climate Change Adaptation 2015–2030 and the updated NDC have identified a number of measures to address climate change adaptation, but their implementation would demand substantial investments (estimated at about USD 8.716 billion) that the country might find difficult to afford, particularly after the adverse impacts of the COVID pandemic on the country’s economy.
 World Bank – Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Dominican Republic. Retrieved October 2021