Monday, 7 December 2009

Pacific turns out in force at COP 15

Nanette Woonton
Climate Pasifika

7 December, Copenhagen - From 7 – 18 December 2009 the world has come together in Copenhagen, Denmark for the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 15th Conference of the Parties (COP).

The Pacific Islands have large delegations attending this conference as they push their call via the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) for global temperature increases to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The majority of the world has announced indicative targets which hope to cap global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius.

We spoke to Espen Ronneberg, the Climate Change Adviser from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Q. What is the key issue for the Pacific region at this particular climate change conference?
The main key issue is to get a fair, adequate legally binding agreement coming out of Copenhagen that addresses emission reductions in a comprehensive manner. It has to address adaptation comprehensively and provide the financing in order to move the process forward.

Q. How optimistic are you that this meeting will culminate in a legally binding agreement?
Well I’m optimistic. We still have two weeks in which to work and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to make some progress. In the next couple of days we’ll be able to have a better view of this as we meet the partners in the negotiations; and see where we can have compromises and where we can have progress. We are still hopeful that we can still get a good agreement here.

Q. The Pacific has large numbers in their delegations this year. I understand that this is a positive step from the region.
Well certainly. You have to put it into perspective that this is a very large and important conference, there is a lot of things being discussed in the margins that will be of benefit to the region so it’s not just the negotiations itself for which we do need to have a number of people present in order to cover everything.
There are a number of events that happen in the margins of the conference such as side events and special exhibits. It’s quite important to have the Pacific presence to try and make those contacts with the donor community and other parties that are interested on working with the pacific on climate change.

Q. How do the larger delegations help when it comes to the negotiation processes and groupings such as the Alliance of Small Islands Sates (AOSIS)?
This is very important. Since we are going to be breaking up into a number of smaller negotiating groups it’s important the pacific takes part with the AOSIS delegations to cover the issues and bring Pacific points of view and examples into the negotiations. I think it’s quite important that we make sure we have people in all these different working groups.

Q. What are your views on the opening plenary session? Do you think that this help set a positive tone for the negotiations?
Well there were certainly very good messages of commitment from the Danish Prime Minister and from the President of the Conference. I thought it was a good tone setter--let’s hope that it will translate into the negotiation rooms.

Q. What’s your overall impression of this particular climate change conference of the parties?
I would say it’s the biggest one I have ever been to. I have never seen so many people in the one place for a climate change meeting. There is a lot at stake so it’s reminiscent of a number of meetings where we had looming deadlines such as the Kyoto Protocol, but in general so far my impressions are it’s pretty good.

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