Monday 7 December 2009

Pacific Voices @ COP15: Solomon Islands

COP 15 opens

Rachna Lal, USP Journalism, Climate Pasifika

7 December, Copenhagen - "Global warming knows no border. It does not discriminate. It affects us all. And here we are today, because we are all committed to action."

These were the opening remarks by the determined Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

"The magnitude of the challenge before us is to translate this political will into a strong common approach which is to forge an agreement that will provide for effective global solutions," he said.

Mr Rasmussen announced that the presence of the 110 Heads of State and Governments during the conference indicating the reflection of an unprecedented mobilization of political determination to combat climate change.

The Executive Secretary for United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, Yvo de Boer emphasised that Copenhagen will only be successful if it delivers significant and immediate action that begins the day the conference ends.

Telling the stories from Copenhagen

7 December, Copenhagen - With some 34,000 expressing interest in attending, 18,000 registered participants, and a conference venue built to take 15,000 delegates, it’s a battle to be heard at the World’s biggest climate change conference, the COP 15.

This may be the largest Pacific delegation ever in attendance at any world event, but it’s still easy to get lost in the crowds and events clamoring for attention here.

The long awaited United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNCFFF) 15th Conference of the Parties commonly termed as the “Copenhagen Meeting” opened today in Denmark.

Pacific presents global 10 million petition at COP 15

Makereta Komai7 December, Copenhagen - 24 year old Leah Wickham of Fiji captivated the hearts of thousands of delegates at the Copenhagen climate change talks on its opening day, in her impassioned plea to the world to sign a deal that will ensure a safe future for her generation.
Climate Pasifika

She led a group of young people from many developed and under developed countries to campaign for a ‘fair and ambitious’ international climate change deal.

A staggering 10 million people expressed their hopes and aspirations in a petition gathered from all corners of the globe.  The campaign called, Tck Tck Tck, is a global alliance representing hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life and is made up of leading international, national and local organizations addressing environment, development, poverty, human rights, health and humanitarian issues. It also represents faith-based groups, youth groups, trade unions and individuals all calling for a fair, ambitious and binding climate change agreement in Copenhagen.

Ms Wickham, representing the Pacific was chosen to deliver the petition with a group of 15 young people to the chair of the Conference of the Parties, Denmark’s Connie Hedegaard and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer.

At the handover, 15 young people held up large scale ‘building blocks” which spelled out “10 million people expect a fair, ambitious and binding deal” – following which Ms Wickham gave an emotional plea while relating the experiences of her peers in the Pacific and the ‘uncertain’ future that lies ahead of them.

"I plead to world leaders on behalf of the millions of young people we represent to sign a deal that will mean my children will inherit a safe world.”

“All the hopes and dreams of generations rest on Copenhagen.

“The islands of the Pacific where I come from are on the frontline of climate change. We plead with you to hear our voices and help us save our homes, our culture, our identity and most importantly our people," Ms Wickham pleaded.

She is optimistic that the future looks promising because ‘the leaders of tomorrow, referring to her peers, are now already converted.

“I am inspired by my peers from developed countries who appreciate our plight and are in this fight with us."

Yvo de Boer applauded the efforts of young people to bring their concerns on climate change to Copenhagen.

“I am amazed by the courage of Leah and all of you to keep on this fight to remind our leaders of the urgent need to reverse the impact of the climate change."

“I ask that you give us two weeks to sort this out," Mr de Boer said.

Ms Hedegaard also praised the campaign, which delivered the hopes of 10 million people today at the climate change meeting in the Danish city.

In response, Ms Wickham said she was humbled by the recognition that a representative from a small island nation in the Pacific was to present the world’s petition at Copenhagen.

“These 10 million people that I don’t know and will never meet in my life time share the same vision as me and the young people that we represent – a vision for a sustainable future and that unites us.

“Hope is something that I will hold on to the very end.”

And she had a message for Pacific Leaders at Copenhagen, “Be vocal and be not easily bought out!"

Tck Tck Tck chair, Kumi Naidoo said the size of the petition demonstrated the huge groundswell of support for world leaders to deal with the climate crisis.

“The world has spoken", Mr Naidoo said.

“People want a deal done here that is fair to the poorest people and countries that did not cause this problem but will suffer most from it, ambitious enough to leave a safe planet for us all and one that is legally – not politically binding, with results that can be monitored and real targets that can be enforced.

“It is time for leaders to provide the political will to meet people’s demands for meaningful action to stop the climate crisis, Mr Naidoo said.

The largest and most important United Nations climate change conference in history opened today with diplomats from 192 nations warned that this could be the last chance for a deal to protect the world from calamitous global warming.

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.

Vote Earth or Global Warming

Makereta Komai
Climate Pasifika

7 December, Copenhagen Denmark - WWF set up two inflatable gates at the entrance to Bella Centre, the venue of UNFCCC conference of the Parties (COP15) asking the thousands of delegates coming through to make a conscious vote – “Vote for Earth or Global Warming.”

For the half an hour that Pacific Communications Team journalist, Makereta Komai was there, over 90 percent of the delegates walked through the “Vote Earth’ gate, to the applause of WWF activists and the media present.

It was good to observe that many of the Pacific delegates that passed through voted on their conscience and chose an ambitious and binding deal on climate change. That is the hope and expectation Pacific delegates here hope to secure for our almost 9 million population at the end of the two weeks negotiations in the Danish city of Copenhagen!