By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Bonn, Germany
10 June 2010, Bonn, Germany --- A showdown between the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) supported by over 110 countries against Gulf States closed Wednesday’s session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
AOSIS had proposed that SBSTA request the United Nations climate change secretariat to prepare a technical paper on the social and economical impacts of the mitigation scenarios of 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius of average global temperature.
The proposal was shot down by representatives of the four Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
“The necessary pledges required to achieve the scenarios mentioned would require a great deal more than the capacity of the secretariat to undertake and will therefore not accept a compromised text, said Saudi Arabia.
The four Gulf States questioned the need for technical paper given that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had already released its 4th Assessment Report.
“How can the secretariat produce such a report in just a few months before Cancun? I don’t think we should proceed in that direction and come with a half baked view in 2-3 months, argued Saudi Arabia.
Barbados and Grenada on behalf of AOSIS clarified that the technical paper hopes to pool together all the sciences available in the public domain to assist vulnerable states address climate change.
Adding its voice to the AOSIS proposal, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) reiterated the importance of the technical analysis of the social and economic impacts of the mitigation scenarios to small and vulnerable states.
“For us the impacts of sea level rise are of enormous importance. This technical paper could provide information to help us with policy decisions. It’s a tool that we could have in some short months.
“It’s puzzling to see objections from the floor, said FSM.
On Thursday, a quick diplomatic intervention brokered by Venezuela resolved the impasse which remained unresolved from Thursday night.
Venezuela introduced a compromised text which required the secretariat to prepare a technical paper, on its own will, before the Cancun meeting.
Discussions spilled over to Thursday when the chair ruled to postpone debate until the next meeting of the scientific body in Cancun.
A disappointed AOSIS chair, Grenada diplomat, Ambassador Dessima Williams said the responses of the ‘few countries’ that opposed the AOSIS proposal ‘borders on alarming.’
“I find it incomprehensible that our simple request has been met with much opposition. But I find comfort in the fact that the opposition is only limited and look forward to a return of this issue in Cancun."
Ambassador Colin Beck of Solomon Islands was disappointed but didn’t want to let the decision of SBSTA affect other important issues for small island states at the negotiations here in Bonn.
“In these negotiations, when we fall, we get up again and look for another window to keep pressing our issue. While the 1.5 degrees is central to our negotiating position, we need Parties to understand us and we understand them. We need to continue with the spirit of reaching out to each other that has begun here in Bonn", said Ambassador Beck.
When SBSTA resumed Thursday morning, young people carrying banner with 1.5 degree messages lined the corridor leading to the conference centre to remind delegates of the kind of future they are giving to them if they oppose the AOSIS proposal.
“This message is directed at Saudi Arabia especially said a 20 year old German student who was part of the 350.org group of young people holding placards.
“We want a safe and secure future for us, said another.
112 countries, including the powerful G77 group, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand supported small island states call for a technical paper.
Ms Makereta Komai will be covering the Bonn Climate Change negotiations from 31 May – 11 June 2010, thanks to support from Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). She will provide daily coverage of the negotiations via PACNEWS and the SPREP website www.sprep.org, the climate pasifika blogspot, http://climatepasifika.blogspot.com and the PINA Green page http://green.pina.com.fj/