Tuesday 8 December 2009

Message from Copenhagen: Tuvalu, FSM, Pacific youth and Cook Islands

"Hi my name is Tauki Kitala and Im from Tuvalu...my hope from this meeting for Tuvalu is that we hope to get a legally binding agreement for this COP 15.

And we're also hoping that the Kyoto Protocol will not be killed."

"My name is Andrew Yatilman and Im from the Federated States of Micronesia. Basically we are here and our mandate is to make sure that out of this COP15 in Copenhagen we can achieve a legally binding agreement."

Pacific youth
"Hi my name is Shobazdeep Kand and I Iive in Canberra and Im part of a project called Project Survival. Were a group thats around the world trying to get youth from regions such as the Pacific, the Carribean and Africa a voice in this conference and trying to get them heard because having grown up in Fiji I understand exactly what climate change and sea level rise will do to our island nations and how devastating it will be if this conference does not achieve something thats meaningful, something thats binding and ambitious and is fair by the end of this  process."

Cook Islands
"Hi Im Myra Pukaia Moeka'a and Im from the Cook Islands. We're here because we want a legally binding agreement. We're one of the vulnerable countries and we want something that will ensure that developed countries meet their commitments at the end of this meeting. "
To view these messages visit the below link:

Message from Copenhagen: Fei Tevi, Secretary General, Pacific Council of Churches

"I think like everybody else we are really hoping for a legally binding and ambitious agreement.  We hope that our leaders will step up to the mark and b leaders as they are named and to go for emissions targets that are well worth the while and that will enable us to forge good steps and prepare us better for the future.

If we don't do it now, if we don't take those steps now we will it will be more expensive in the future.

And so for us thats one of the main issues that of course al the networks of ngo's and civil society that we are concerned about.

As you see around us a lot of people are talking about adaptation and mitigation and talking about saving the trees and savings the trees but there's not that many of us thats talking about looking for other places to live.

For the Pacific conference of churches its an ongoing priority and for our network its also an ongoing priority.  And also for our partners they are helping us in thi process and to begin dialogue and preparations towards the resettlement of populations.

And of course in our Pacific we've already experienced many resettlements taking place."

Visit this link to view the comment:  http://www.youtube.com/user/COP15pacific#p/a/u/1/1VeOVOO4FZ4

Message at Copenhagen: David Sheppard, Director, SPREP

"The message we are making here is 1.5 to stay alive and that's to keep the temperature increase below 1.5 which is much more ambitious than any other targets on the table. This is the combined position of the AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States.  We see that this and associated carbon cuts are essential if the Pacific is to have a viable future."

Visit this link to view the comment:    http://www.youtube.com/user/COP15pacific

Pacific voice at Copenhagen

Climate change threatens the very existence of Pacific Islanders and they are pushing for an ambitious, legally binding deal in Copenhagen, despite coming to the meeting in good faith.

Their stand was made clear at a press conference today, by a panel of speakers from the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia. 

Speaking on behalf of the Government of the Republic of the Fiji Islands, minister for environment, Colonel Samuela Saumatua highlighted that climate change is a grim reality, Pacific Islanders have to live with everyday.

He said the Pacific’s expectation for the meet is ambitious as climate change threatens the Pacific way of live and its rich cultures.

However, Solomon Island’s Permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Colin Beck expressed disappointment that there have been no substantial commitments from industrialized countries, to reduce their emissions.

"We come with alot of hope and with alot of positive spirit and alot of positive things have been said. I only say that it has been a little disheartening to hear from the opening sessions yesterday that no real committments were made by non annex one countries, " he said.

Samoa’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Feturi Elisaia questioned if the 10 billion dollars put down for adaptation for the next three years, will be sufficient.

He said the Pacific needs finances but it is not asking for handouts as each country had their  own national response plans but any finance given must be for the long term.

Ahimsa Kibikibi
Climate Pasifika

Pacific voices@COP15: Australia, Cook Islands, FSM, Fiji and Tuvalu


"Come feel our pain," Tuvalu at COP 15

“The only way people will feel our pain is if they came to Tuvalu and saw for themselves what the situation is.”  So says Taukiei Kitala, a climate change activist representing Tuvalu's Association of NGOs (TANGO) in Copenhagen this week. 

The fourth smallest island nation in the world, Tuvalu, is boosting the Pacific presence in the hundreds of exhibition stands at the COP15 with the hope of demonstrating to developed countries what the reality of  climate change impacts is on their country. 

Kitala says they are expecting a new legally binding agreement for the Kyoto Protocol.

“We hope that the Kyoto Protocol remains but amendments are made to it so that we all can benefit from it,” he said.

He gave an insight into the connection from Tuvaluans for their homeland.  He says there is no talk of relocation despite the rising tides and sea level rise.

“What big countries need to know is that climate threats will make us leave our land and that is why mitigation and adaptation is more important than relocation,” Kitala pointed out.  He hopes a resolution will be found  during the COP15 and the inhibitants of Tuvalu will be saved from having to relocate or becoming the world’s first entire nation of climate refugees.

The main source of income in Tuvalu is the remittances that are received by its sea-farers.

“We have no export market and we want people to see what is actually happening in one of the countries that  is to be discussed during this COP15 and that is why we are giving out booklets and showing pictures and clips to those interested with the effects of climate change in Tuvalu.”

Tuvalu is a small island group of eight coral atolls located midway between Hawaii and Australia. The population of almost 11,000 depend on underground well water as well as rainwater.  Families are finding that due to climate change the underground water is getting saltier and difficult to drink with the rainwater being unrealiable.

Kitala added that during high tides, water comes from every side including from underneath and this just destroys their plantation and crops which are low in supply any way.

Rachna Lal
Climate Pasifika

"You have been negotiating all my life": Solomon Islander teen to COP15.

Born in 1992 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed by 154 states, 17 year old Christina Ora made a moving speech at the closing plenary of the opening of the COP15 on Monday. 
Christina made the speech on behalf of the global youth constituency. During the two weeks of the climate change conference, she will be working with the Solomon Islands Delegation and Project Survival Pacific, a project of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, to raise the voice of Pacific island countries. In a moving two minute speech she made in front of thousands of people, Ms Ora said that youth are mobilizing support from millions of people all over the world for the fair, adequate and legally binding agreement that youth deserve. “I speak on behalf of the international youth to express the urgency of the climate crises for my generation, your children and your grandchildren.“I was born in 1992, you have been negotiating all my life you cannot tell us that you need more time, commit now to decisions that will guarantee our future,” Ora said. 

10 billion Copenhagen Launch Fund not enough, says Beck

A 10 billion dollar funding initiative proposed by the British Government to help poor countries adapt to the impact of climate change is not enough, says Solomon Islands Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Colin Beck. The so-called Copenhagen Launch Fund was announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the summit of Commonwealth Leaders last week in Trinidad & Tobago. Britain is to provide 800 million pounds (US$1.3 billion dollars) while the rest will come from ‘rich countries.’

It’s not clear who the ‘rich countries’ are, but they are expected to top up Britain’s offer, which only lasts until 2012.
While Ambassador Beck welcomed the proposed financing mechanism, he’s skeptical that ‘rich countries’ will not live up to their funding commitments.

Trade Unions and climate change; equity, justice and solidarity in the fight against climate change.

317 Trade Unionists representing over 100 nations are in Copenhagen at the World’s biggest climate change conference, urging governments to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to 85% lower than their 1990 levels by the year 2050. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) represents 175 million workers. It’s a confederation of national trade union centres, each of which links together the trade unions of that particular country. The primary mission is the promotion and defence of workers’ rights and interests, through international cooperation between trade unions and global campaigning. While at the UN Climate Change conference they are calling upon the need for targets of at least 25 – 40% by developed countries by 2020 below 1990 levels. “The higher the better,” said Philip Pearson who is leading the ITCU delegation in Copenhagen.
“There needs to be a genuinely new finance for the developing countries to deal with 2 things adaptation for the climate impacts that are already there and a low carbon economic growth, but also from a trade union point of view we want a place at the table.”

Tsunami link to climate change still under dispute

The September 30 2009 tsunami which devastated three Pacific island countries and caused great fear and panic is possibly linked to climate change according to some international scientists-- but the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) of the United Nations says there is no verified link between seismic activities and weather patterns. Secretary General of WMO Michel Jarraud told Environment Weekly today that although the frequencies of earthquakes and tsunamis are notable, the link is not defined. "There is no scientific link between the two, as far as we know, there is no significant link between earthquakes and climate change."

Protected areas a natural solution to climate change crisis

Protected areas offer a cost effective solution to the impacts of climate change, according to a report just eleased by theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The book, 'Natural Solutions: protected areas helping to cope with climate change' for the first time articulates clearly how protected areas contribute significantly to reducing the impacts of climatechange, says Lord Nicholas Stern, who wrote the foreword of the report. In the Pacific, a number of countries have taken a lead role in protecting their marine resources. This work is spearheaded by the international environment conservation group, Worldwide Fund forNature (WWF). In 2006, Palau, through the Micronesia Challenge made a commitment to effectively conserve 30 percent of its near-shore marine and 20 percent of its terrestrial resources by 2020.

PNG to boost Pacific voice at COP15

The final list of what is expected to be the largest national delegation from the Pacific developing nation attending the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, is yet to be released.

Papua New Guinea's full delegation is yet to arrive, to join climate change talks that got underway yesterday (Monday) and delegates have been flying in over the last week for the many seperate meetings involved in the UNFCCC program. PNG Chief negotiator, Kevin Conrad (left) is leading PNG's cause, under the banner of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, which sat for their first meeting on Monday and he has been leading the charge in the plenary sessions.

The Office of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability and the Department of Environment and Conservation, remains to the 11th hour tight lipped, on who is on the delegation and how many are representing PNG. But delegates here say Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, who is leading the delegation will officially announce the delegation before he leaves the country, on Sunday, as well as clarify PNG's position at the world climate meet.  Sir Michael is also expected to announce the Climate Change declaration signed at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Meanwhile, during the meeting in Copenhagen Sir Michael is expected to join the high level talks segment with other world leaders after the 15th of December, with a highly anticipated a new climate change deal, to be endorsed on the 18th. PNG is also hosting a side event on what it is advocating for 'Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation' (REDD) this week.

Ahimsa Kibikibi
Climate Pasifika

Indigenous peoples group adds to COP15 flavour

Tuesday 8 Dec, 2009: Indigenous peoples from all over the world are joining the throngs of NGO observer groups in Copenhagen this week as the world counts down to a global UNFCCC COP15 outcome. They are here to express their collective rights in the context of climate change, covering land, territories, resources and traditional knowledge. Preparing for their Forum on Climate Change, a number of indigenous peoples sang local traditional songs to welcome delegates to the UNFCCC international climate change talks at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen.

"1.5 to stay alive" the only option: AOSIS

In September 2009 in New York, leaders of the World’s 42 island states, called the AOSIS grouping, delivered a resounding declaration to the United Nations General Assembly. The AOSIS group demanded that global warming be kept well below 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C).  Dubbed “1.5ÂșC to Stay Alive” a campaign based on their declaration to the UN gives voice to those living with the most devastating impacts of climate change. Amongst those raising the alarm on the catastrophic impact of going above 1.5 degrees is Dr Albert Binger. Formerly an academic with expertise in environmental economics, Binger is now a '1.5 to stay alive' lobbyist based within the technical team supporting the work of AOSIS chair, Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada. He shared his thoughts with pacific journalist Lisa Williams-Lahari.

Excerpt from Q and A with scientist turned activist Dr Albert Binger (pictured above back, 2nd from right):
Q.What is the simplest way to put across the concept of “1.5 to stay alive?
The simplest way is at 2 degrees, we say it’s like flipping a coin (flips a coin): heads or tails?
You just lost the planet, it’s tails.
Just like that?
Just like that. 2 degrees is a 50-50 chance that you make it or a 50-50 chance that you don’t make it. It’s like putting your kid on the school bus knowing he may come home today, or he may not. Would you do that?
Q. I wouldn’t have a choice.
Yes. That’s the bad part. Island people never had choices but unfortunately it falls to us to try and protect the future of the planet. Very ironic but paradoxical.
Q. So the little people here have to make the biggest noise?
That’s what it comes down to. Because we will be the first to go.
Q. Is the rest of the world listening?
I would say more countries, not necessarily big countries but more countries, and not just islands, are beginning to understand that the risk is just too great. And that there’s nothing wrong with saying “let’s take 1.5 less and be safe than take 2 degrees and be sorry”.