Wednesday, 5 December 2012

UNFCC COP 18 High Level Statement by Samoa

The Prime Minister of Samoa (middle) Head of the delegation of Samoa at COP 18, Doha

Statement by Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi Prime Minister of Samoa

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I want to place on record my delegation’s deepest appreciation to the Government and people of the State of Qatar for being gracious hosts.

Global warming is the greatest challenge to mankind. It is an existential threat and an issue of survival, especially for populations of low-lying islands who had long felt and experienced the impacts of climate change.

Durban produced a delicately-balanced deal last year to help address the threat of climate change, in the post-Kyoto Protocol period, and beyond. There were agreements and understandings reached in good faith, as part of the package. Doha was expected to deliver a Second Commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, to wrap up the parallel Convention track negotiations on long-term cooperative actions, and to progress and consolidate the Durban Platform negotiations for a new global climate policy architecture.

Doha however was not meant to reinterpret and renegotiate the Durban deal, as last week’s talks showed. In fact, one or two timelines had shifted, and some hard fought gains by some groups seemed to have been lost. The intransigent positions of others are stalling agreement on an ambitious plan to fight global warming. These are unhelpful and self-centered. Yet the gravity and the immediacy of climate change compel us to be decisive and be forward-looking. It forces us to step outside of our comfort zones to take a long hard look at ourselves and others, and the reality of the world we live in. The inaction and indifference to the plight of those vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the least capable to respond effectively because of a misplaced sense of some that there is somehow insulation from such risks, only makes the goal of curbing climate change more difficult and more expensive. Time is running out.  

The World Bank report released last month revealed some sobering and frightening truths. The world is on a path to a 4 degree Celsius warmer world by the end of the century. And a series of scientific reports are forecasting similar scenarios unless bold actions are taken today, not tomorrow, and by everyone, not just a few. The dire consequences now predicted will also unavoidably be given focus in the Third Conference on SIDS that Samoa hosts in 2014.

Mr. President,

It is this clear urgency and the unsatisfactory state of the global response to climate change so far that prompts Samoa to try and be represented at the highest political level at the Conference of the Parties and all related meetings. As has been obvious for a long time now, increased ambition must underpin the whole of the climate change negotiations. But it should not be an exclusive domain to mitigation efforts only. We strongly support the call for ambitious mitigation targets pre-2020 and post 2020 with a legally binding Second Commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. But we also want parties to be just as ambitious in the provision of climate resources to benefit adaptation and mitigation activities equally, together with technology that are appropriate and affordable and the setting up of an appropriate mechanism to deal with loss and damage.

Mr. President,

The First Commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, an important milestone in the history of the global climate regime, will end on December 31st. While we were hopeful that more states parties would join a Second Commitment period, obviously this will not be the case.

Given this reality and the uncertainty in the level of ambitions starting 2013, for Samoa, the focus should not be on whether one’s pledges or commitments will be made under the Kyoto Protocol or the Framework Convention, the real test for all of us is how to find a way to ensure that there is ambitious and meaningful emission reductions irrespective of where they are anchored. We see complimentary activities in the same vein as long as they are additional to existing pledges and can meaningfully contribute to reducing the ambition gap.

Mr. President,

Climate change is a global problem beyond the capacity of any one country or group of countries to solve successfully. Only a concerted global effort of states and their stakeholders working in genuine partnerships, where every input is valued and appreciated no matter how modest or insignificant it may appear, can we stand a chance of success. This is shared responsibility to act together to deal with the climate crisis according to one’s own capabilities.

Our message is simple and genuine.

We want to be part of the climate change solution and to make positive contributions to the global effort. Being a small isolated island country with a limited resource-base has never been an excuse not to do our bit. Although the size of our effort maybe be very small at the global scale it is nevertheless significant compared to the size of our country and economy. Very importantly, we continue to try and show through modest examples the critical nature of the collective effort and commitment required from all countries if we are to succeed in turning around climate change.  

While Samoa has acted domestically to do our part to contribute to the global response to climate change, it is only through partnerships with sympathetic countries and their willingness to act ambitiously domestically themselves that could make possible the magnitude of the response needed to address the catastrophic consequences of climate change now irrefutably predicted by science.

Thank you.

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