Friday, 3 December 2010

Rush to disburse fast start finance for 2010, U.S commits $21million for the Pacific

Dr. Jonathon Pershing, Deputy, US Special envoy on climate change

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika in Cancun, Mexico

03 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN --- The race is on to disburse the US$10 billion committed for the fast start finance for 2010.

With only just over 20 days left to the end of the year, rich nations who’ve promised funds are now acting with haste to spend the money before the next commitment period.

Increasingly this week in Cancun, a number of these nations have convened special briefings to spell out how and who will benefit from their bilateral and multilateral funding commitments.

The United States announced on Thursday it was working towards spending its US$1.7 billion in fast start finance committed for 2010.

US deputy special envoy on climate change, Dr Jonathan Pershing reiterated that the US was moving quickly to disburse the funds to ‘help address the urgent and immediate needs of the most vulnerable countries.’

“We are working to make critical investments today that have short term transformative impacts and to scale up resources quickly by delivering assistance through existing funding channels".

The majority of the U.S climate finance is administered by USAID and the departments of State and the Treasury.

In the Pacific, the U.S has promised US$21 million to assist Small Island States adapt to climate change, as announced by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton last month on her tour of Asia.

Apart from the announcement of the fund by Secretary Clinton, no other information is available on how the fund will be distributed amongst the Pacific Island Countries, some of whom fall under the category of vulnerable states.

Myra Moekaa, head of Cook Islands delegation here in Cancun told Climate Pasifika Media the smaller islands in the Pacific hope to get a meaningful share of the promised U.S fast start finance.

“We hope that bulk of the fund doesn’t only go to the larger countries and consideration be given to adaptation projects on the ground and not simply for enabling activities and pilot projects. We’d like assistance with the concrete projects on the ground, said Ms Moekaa.

Ambassador Colin Beck of the Solomon Islands says changes in the U.S internal politics could affect the flow of the US funding commitments.

“The Republicans now have a majority within the House of Representatives and they have in no uncertain terms, given the domestic stress on their financial situation say whether the climate change money will go out to developing countries as committed under the Copenhagen Accord.

But, that again from media sources and from reactions of various letters by republicans within the system, said Ambassador Beck.

The U.S will re-open its development aid office, USAID in Suva to serve as a base for its work in the region.

To date, very little information is available publicly on how the US$21 million will be spent in the Pacific.

“USAID offices are our links to disbursing the funds, said USAID senior official, Maura O’Neill via telecast from Washington D.C.

She clarified that funds available for 2010 on climate change are ‘indeed new and additional’.

“These are scaled up finances and represents significant new dollars in our overseas development assistance (ODA), said O’Neill.

Information on the fast start finance is available on

Pacific raise profile at climate change summit in Cancun

Cancun, Mexico - The Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and Samoa were three Pacific island nations showcased during a side event at the Cancun COP. Titled Pacific island countries – taking action on climate change: Current and planned climate change actions in the Pacific”, the side event allowed for each to highlight the different areas of climate change work in their country, obstacles faced as well as lessons learnt.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) also made presentations on the regional actions underway and planned for the future.

Over the coming days we’ll bring you highlights of each of the country presentations.

Cook Islands shares lessons learnt in preparing climate change report

Mii Matamaki of the Cook Islands in middle

Cancun Mexico - The Cook Islands were featured in a Pacific side event at the Cancun climate change talks, highlighting the obstacles they face as a small island nation in coping with the impacts of climate change.

One of the key criteria that parties to the UN climate change convention must adhere to, is the completion of a ‘national communications’. This is a status report on all climate change related matters in the country, including that of a greenhouse gas emission inventory. This report is to be submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming bringing about climate change that has consequences.

The Cook Islands completed their first national communications report in 1999 and are now in the process of finalising their second report for which there have been numerous challenges.

Mii Matamaki, the Second National Communication Project Coordinator at the National Environment Service in the Cook Islands shared these obstacles in the four years it has taken for the Cook Islands to complete their second national communications report.

“One of the major concerns we have is that there is no full time person committed to the project, leading the different components,” explained Matamaki.

“Most of the activities were done through consultancies which have also taken time to develop, we’ve also had work which had to be redone which took more time and further to that the delay in receiving funding has also added to dragging out this process.”

One of the key highlights noted in producing this report is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions of the Cook Islands by 33% in comparison to 10 years ago. Matamaki attributes this to the heavy reliance on fossil fuel which is now being addressed by the Cook Islands Government.

“Despite this, the Cook Islands contribute a very insignificant amount to the global greenhouse gas emissions, but we have noticed an increase in that tiny amount by over 30%.”

Along with mitigation activities in the Cook Islands, the nation has also worked towards adapting to the impacts of climate change. A vulnerability assessment carried out highlighted ‘water’ as a priority issue to be addressed. From this the nation undertook adaptation activities to increase the water capacity in the communities such as providing water tanks and educational awareness on water conservation. Full detail of these and other adaptation activities will be available in the Cook Islands second national communications report.

“We are coming close to now completing it and hope it will be done by January next year, once it is we will do a national launch in the Cook Islands followed by presenting it to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC”.

Global solidarity needed at Cancun climate change talks

Ambassador Elisaia Feturi with fellow delegate

“Climate change is a global threat and knows no boundaries. We are all part of a global family and we need solidarity amongst all negotiating groups, as it’s a common problem that can only be approached from a common perspective.” - Ambassador Elisaia Feturi, Samoa's Ambassador to the United Nations

Cancun, Mexico - Global solidarity is being asked of negotiators this week at the climate change talks in Cancun.

As the world comes together for the UN Climate Change talks in Cancun, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) remain firm in their commitment to a global agreement bringing deeper emission cuts.

The Pacific island countries have joined forces with other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as a negotiating body under the climate change convention.

AOSIS has been consistent in their call for stabilising temperature levels at 1.5 degrees Celsius, coining the slogan – “1.5 to stay alive”. Ambassador Elisaia Feturi, the Ambassador from Samoa to the United Nations, made a plea for global solidarity in Cancun, Mexico this week.

“Climate change is a global threat and knows no boundaries. We are all part of a global family and we need solidarity amongst all negotiating groups, as it’s a common problem that can only be approached from a common perspective.”

The Pacific islands are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, however they have also contributed the very least to the problem. Over the next two weeks in Cancun at the climate change talks, the Pacific is trying to ensure the survival of future generations. Working in a block with AOSIS they are asking countries to establish policies that will lower the rate of greenhouse gas emissions which cause global warming.

In order to live with the effect of climate change due to global warming form historical greenhouse gas emissions, countries are already learning to adapt. Inability to grow root crops due to saltwater intrusion, extreme weather events and droughts are part and parcel of the climate change impacts the Pacific is experiencing. Adapting to live with these effects is becoming a way of life for the Pacific. Science says that unless the greenhouse gas emissions are lowered, these impacts will only grow worse.

“I think when some people are talking about climate change, unfortunately most of them think it is a future event and hasn’t happened yet, but for us – we are talking about impacts that are already happening,” said Ambassador Feturi.

“We need to stress the urgency of the situation, the global community needs to understand the urgency of our situation and work hand in hand as one to combat climate change.”

Pacific Youth vow action on climate change

Krishneil Narayan

By Stanley Simpson for Climate Pasifika Media Team

2 December Cancun, Mexico - Pacific youth delegates  took a frontline role on behalf of their peers from around the world – calling on leaders to guarantee young people a safe climate change future.

Fiji student and environmental advocate Krishneil Narayan spoke on behalf of world youths - at a plenary alongside UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and declared that young people still have faith in the process – and will not give up on it.

He cited the work being done by Pacific youth who are already battling the harsh impacts of climate change.

“We youth in the Pacific are very concerned about our future in those islands, and instead of sitting around and debating the technicalities and the texts in square brackets - like our lovely politicians did last year in Copenhagen – we are actually getting to work,” Krishneil said.

“The youth in the Pacific have collaborated with each other and with their respective government departments, regional NGOs and diplomatic missions, to start community based climate change adaptation programmes.”

Narayan also took time to describe the ‘Pacific Climate Leadership Program’, the first such program in the Pacific region.

“Through our collaborations with Pacific stakeholders we are now able to provide leadership trainings not only to youths but also women and men from all ages who go on to manage community based adaptation programs, we have started with six different Pacific Island countries.”

The commitment of young people was visible today as many wore blue t-shirts quoting Solomon Island youth Christina Ora: “You’ve been negotiating all my life, you cannot tell me you need more time.”

Ora made the comment at the climate change conference last year in Copenhagen.

Fiji calls for better access to climate change funds

Mr. Navoti with member of Fiji delegation in discussion at Cancun COP

By Stanley Simpson, Climate Pasifika Media Team

2 December, Cancun, Mexico -  Fiji is calling for better access to funds that will help small island states adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director of Political and Treaties – Sainivalati Navoti says they would like to see the negotiation process result in a finance mechanism that allows easy access to funds – and ‘big negotiations’ are going on now on that fund.

“Fiji like most Pacific island states are here to see the creation of a new fund to be called the Climate Fund, or Green Fund or whatever name it is to enable easy access to adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change,” Navoti says.

“That is a primary target and we are trying our best to negotiate on that.”

Negotiations on the fund has been going on over the last two days and Navoti reveals that “there is still very polarized views between the developing countries and the donor countries. “

He pointed out that under the Copenhagen Accord – developed countries were willing to put $100 billion for financing on climate change, but developing countries were wanting greater commitments.

“The G77 and China - of which we are a member of - is advancing the argument that $100 billion is not sufficient to comprehensively address the potential implication or adverse effects of climate change,” says Navoti.

“What we then advanced is a shares contribution from developed states of 1.5 per cent of their GDP. Powers like European Union, US, Canada, Australia and NZ, they said no they will not move on that. So now we are going to be innovative and try to come up with a model that could facilitate the setting up of that fund.”

“For Fiji, what we need is sufficient funds for us to access easily. Right now the processes we have in processing some of these climate funds – such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is quite cumbersome. We spend all efforts, almost costing us an arm and a leg to get it, and we don’t want a repeat of that under the new fund.

“So we’re looking for a fund that is predictable – a fund that is there – a fund that is sustainable for a long period of time – and one that allows for easy access.

Scene@COP16: Pacific delegate at work

1 December Cancun Mexico - Chanel Iroi of the Solomon Islands delegation found somewhere quiet to work in between informal meetings at the Cancun Climate Change talks. With the large numbers of participants attending this meeting, available power sources for laptops, available computers for use around the venue and reliable internet connections have caused problems and stemmed the flow of work for some.

The Cancun climate change conference is held across five different buildings throughout two different venues. The Media and some meeting rooms are a 10 minute bus ride away the main conference room, with a spate of meeting rooms less than a 2 minute walk away from the main conference room, all within the Moon Palace.

The second conference venue is the Cancun Messe, this is where side events are held, as well as the main security checkpoint, exhibit booths and meeting accreditation facilities. In order to reach the Moon Palace, you must first travel by special bus to the Cancun Messe, before clearing security to board the second bus to Moon Palace.

Scene@COP16: Protest – Respect for Recyclers: We are Climate Fighters

1 December Cancun, Mexico - A protest outside the meeting rooms of the Cancun Climate Change talks yesterday drew much interest. The international coalition of grass root recyclers and waste pickers united with citizens’ groups from around the world to call for an end to wasted resources in incinerators and landfills, and to demand respect and support for world’s recyclers and the planet.
“The work of wastepickers should be respected and recognized because of its contribution in combating climate change and reducing emissions, alleviating poverty. There are millions of people employed in this sector,” said Simon Mbata from the South African Wastepickers Association. “One of the biggest enemies of climate change and recyclers are CDM and its projects, which do not combat climate change – but spread emissions throughout the continents and destroying the livelihoods of millions.”