Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tiny Tuvalu stirs up COP15, calls for suspension

In an unprecedented move, Tuvalu called for the suspension of the Conference of the Parties (COP) plenary session in Copenhagen today (Wed 09 Dec). The COP plenary session is the main body that is considering proposals from member countries for amendments to the Kyoto Protocol.Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea submitted proposed amendments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat in June this year.Addressing the COP plenary, chaired by Denmark’s minister responsible for climate change, Connie Hedegaard, Tuvalu’s chief negotiator Ian Fry (pictured) reiterated his government’s position for a legally binding agreement. Tuvalu’s proposal, Mr Fry said, is an amendment to Kyoto to ‘make it clear."“We call on all leaders to put pen to paper and sign two legally binding agreements in Copenhagen – amendments to the Kyoto Protocol and a new Protocol to be called the Copenhagen Protocol in honour of this great city."
  "Tuvalu has delivered, we have an agreement, we have the means. Let us pull out the red carpet, put ink on our pens and drag out the signing table."

 But, Tuvalu’s attempt to refer any detailed discussion on its proposed amended Kyoto Protocol to a contact group, to be set up by the Conference of the Parties (COP) was refused by the chair. “The blocking came from China, Saudi Arabia and India. They don’t want any discussion in the contact group," said Tuvalu’s spokesperson, Taukiei Kitala. “The contact group will allow for a more transparent and open discussion on our proposal for a legally binding agreement. It will also allow for a greater view point from both the parties and NGOs to present their views. The plenary session is only confined to parties, said Mr Kitala. Solomon Islands, a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which supported Tuvalu’s call, agreed that there needs to be greater transparency in the COP process. Ambassador Colin Beck told the Pacific Communications Team here in Copenhagen there was some understanding about Tuvalu’s proposal. “The proposal is to amend the protocol but not kill it off totally. In essence it called for the extension of the legally binding agreement."  IIf we are going to have a positive outcome, it needs to be legally binding. The extension needs to be part of the package, otherwise it will not be a success. Even though we have the financing mechanism, we should also have the commitments. It is really one of the breakers of the negotiations here. “We are positive of a good outcome from consultations this evening so we can proceed tomorrow (Thursday 10 Dec)," said Ambassador Beck. Fiji’s Minister for Environment, Colonel Samuela Saumatua also declared his country’s support for Tuvalu’s move to suspend today’s session to allow for the chair and other parties to consult on the best way to deal with amendments to the Kyoto Protocol. “I lend my support to the concerns of Tuvalu delegation and their desire for a legally binding agreement and have a conclusive outcome." “Fiji commends Tuvalu for this initiative and we hope the contact group will enable the realisation of Tuvalu’s proposal," said Saumatua.  Connie Hedegaard told the afternoon plenary consultations would take place through the evening "and we hope to give you all the good news tomorrow".--ENDS

Makereta Komai
Climate Pasifika

Ian Fry photocredit:

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