Wednesday 9 December 2009

Tiny Tuvalu stirs up COP15, calls for suspension

In an unprecedented move, Tuvalu called for the suspension of the Conference of the Parties (COP) plenary session in Copenhagen today (Wed 09 Dec). The COP plenary session is the main body that is considering proposals from member countries for amendments to the Kyoto Protocol.Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea submitted proposed amendments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat in June this year.Addressing the COP plenary, chaired by Denmark’s minister responsible for climate change, Connie Hedegaard, Tuvalu’s chief negotiator Ian Fry (pictured) reiterated his government’s position for a legally binding agreement. Tuvalu’s proposal, Mr Fry said, is an amendment to Kyoto to ‘make it clear."“We call on all leaders to put pen to paper and sign two legally binding agreements in Copenhagen – amendments to the Kyoto Protocol and a new Protocol to be called the Copenhagen Protocol in honour of this great city."
  "Tuvalu has delivered, we have an agreement, we have the means. Let us pull out the red carpet, put ink on our pens and drag out the signing table."

Draft Danish text sparks anger and outrage at climate change talks in Copenhagen

A draft text on how to fund cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that was leaked to the Guardian newspaper has sparked anger and outrage at the Copenhagen climate talks.The so-called Danish text, in principle will give rich nations significant power over the billions of dollars to be distributed to poorer countries as part of the new climate change deal. Chairman of the G77 and China group, Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, (pictured) a diplomat and lead negotiator for Sudan said the Danish text, ‘was a violation of the principles of transparency and openness.’
He questioned the rationale behind Denmark’s ‘secret’ deal.
“We feel insulted by this deal. It’s unfair and not equitable."

Bold Tuvalu scores rare acclaim at COP15

Tuvalu managed to scoop the first ever Ray of the Day award today in a satirical game-show style ceremony at the COP15. The historical award is presented on rare occasions to countries that substantially advance progress in global climate talks; and was scooped by the Pacific nation after chief negotiator Ian Fry made bold proposals during plenary to create a contact group to discuss, in an open and transparent forum, the legal outcome of the COP. Tuvalu's bold move has bolstered solidarity amongst other Pacific nations in the AOSIS group who are part of the call for Copenhagen to deliver a legally binding and enforceable outcome.This means, as well as a second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, a complementary agreement that covers non-Kyoto parties must take place. For this agreement to be born, the discussion must begin. At the other end of the spectrum, Canada and Croatia won the first place daily 'fossil awards' for worst climate change performance, while Russia managed to slip into second place.

Rachna Lal
Climate Pasifika/CAN International release

Vanuatu on internally displaced, backs AOSIS call to COP15

A strong Vanuatu delegation here in Copenhagen, has thrown its full support behind the Alliance of Small Island States stance for a legally binding agreement. Vanuatu’s Meteorology Director and lead delegate Jotham Napat told Climate Pacific his country wholeheartedly supports the AOSIS position. It has similar concerns and is one of the five Pacific nations of the 49-member Least Developed Country (LDC) group. Napat says the AOSIS stand for a legally binding agreement is clear and paves the way forward for future negotiations, even though it is still too early to predict how the climate talks will progress. On whether Vanuatu is experiencing climate change he says the island nation is already relocating people from Torres Island, whose water sources have been contaminated by sea water. “Vanuatu has done an adaptation project, relocating a community from Torres Island, whose water sources are not safe any more, proving to the international community that climate change is happening in Vanuatu and we must adapt”.

Ahimsa Kibikibi
Climate Pasifika

Pacific's smallest island nation at the worlds largest UN meet

From the atoll of Fakaofo to the Bella Centre, it has been a long journey of over four days for Faipule Foua Toloa, the Ulu, or titular head of Tokelau. Toloa (pictured) has come to Copenhagen, Denmark hopeful that his small island nation accessible only by sea, will be given observer status with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS). Toloa is attending the COP 15 as a member of the New Zealand delegation. Tokelauans like Cook Islanders and Niueans are all New Zealand citizens. Toloa is joined by Lili Tuioti who is also representing Tokelau within the New Zealand delegation. Both members arrived on day 3 of the climate change negotiations. “We are the only territory of NZ who have not been involved with discussing environmental issues when we would be the first, like many other countries in the Pacific, to go under water from the rising sea levels,” said Toloa.
“There are very important issues regarding climate change and we haven’t been involved from the beginning, but we are coming here now. As the new leader of Tokelau, I see that climate change is a top issue and I am putting that as a priority.”

As at July this year the census estimated a population of just over 1,400 which reside on three atolls which make up the nation which is currently under New Zealand administration.

Tokealu lies in the Pacific typhoon belt and it is understood that the highest point for the islands nation is 5 metres. The impacts of climate change are a serious threat to the survival of the people of Tokelau, says its Ulu. “Even though we are part of the New Zealand delegation I am hoping we can have some understanding on this issue of climate change. At the same time I have appealed to AOSIS, the voice of the Small Islands Developing States so that at least we can be heard."--ENDS

Nanette Woonton

Climate Pasifika

Youth and water a feature at Kiribati COP15 event

1 in every 100 infants in Kiribati dies before their first birthday because of contaminated water in the low-lying atoll nation. The grim statistic was part of a slideshow given by climate change officer in the Kiribati Ministry of Environment, Micheal Foon during a COP15 side event hosted by Kiribati. Statistics suggest that Kiribati has the highest infant mortality rate in the Pacific followed by Papua New Guinea and Marshall Islands. “How many more children will die before we do something about it?," asked Foon in the emotionally-charged moment.

Kiribati is one of the Pacific nations already bearing the brunt of sea level rise worsened by climate change. The lack of fresh water is becoming a threat requiring international assistance to help officials implement adaptive measures.Tessie Eria Lambourne, (pictured, above) is working with the Kiribati Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She says Australia and New Zealand have been helping the adaptation process. “We have a program called the Kiribati – Australia Nursing Initiative (KINA) which trains our young people to get Australian university qualifications in nursing,” she said. The KINA program not only educates  the students, but provides them with opportunities to stay and work in Australia. “This is the model that we are trying to get all the developed countries to assist us in training our people to your standards and international standards so we can help you fill your labor gaps,” she appealed. In the meanwhile, youth have been working in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment in Kiribati to help in adaptive measures. Foon said youth in the environment youth club were involved in all sectors of the environment. “At the moment, we are trying to engage them in mangrove planting and that is our current focus of adaptive measures among the youth-- to help them help others".
Rachna Lal
Climate Pasifika

Yourvoices@COP15:Kim Carstensen, WWF

TRANSCRIPT: The easy bit is one where developing countries get support from developed countries in terms of finance or in terms of technology. For those bits developing countries seem perfectly willing to measure, to report and to have it verified. They are willing and you can see that in the basic paper.  They are willing to live up to whatever international guidelines there might be .But on the other part the part they do themselves then they have more reservations because why should they just put up to international scrutiny.This is ours they say. Its our actions, its our money, our responsibility and you shouldn't interfere with that.
The trick will be to find a balance and that this is done in accordance of course with national rules of countries. But on the other hand in a way that makes it transparent to the world,because its important for the world and the atmosphere We need to find a way in which it will be verified, the reporting requirements, the measurement standards and even the accounting rules are there for everybody so that we know we can trust information the country's give us.

Samoas adaptation measures featured at COP15

Samoas integrated approach to adaptation was featured at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this week. Anne Rasmussen (pictured), Principal Climate Change Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment presented Samoas case today at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) address to the Conference. She said: "We are one of the very vulnerable contries, a small island state in the Pacific and we see this project as a very hands on, on the ground project that will help the people of Samoa adapt to climate change." Samoa signed Kyoto on the 16th of March 1998, and was accepted for ratification on the 27th of November 2000. Samoa submitted its first national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1999. Anne says: "The Samoa story is that not only have we developed our NAPA, we have already done the plans, and identified the 9 projects, community driven. We are now
coming to see the implementation of these projects. The project integrated adaptation itno the agriculture sector and health." Samoa was one of the first countries to receive funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the Least Developed Country Fund to develop its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). After two years of information and data collection, as well as countrywide consultations, Samoa’s NAPA preparation project
reported the achievement of it's objectives. One such success included the realisation that climate change involved more than one sector. "We do not see climate change as just an environmental issue, it is a cross cutting issue and plans get passed on all other sectors. We see an integrated approach on all sectors as not only unique but important," Anne said.
The Global Environment Facility commended the efforts of Samoa in complying with terms of the funding and said islands should follow suit. The ‘Samoa Climate Change Synthesis Report: National Adaptation Programme of Action 2004’ also created links to other multilateral agreements like the the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). According to MNRE a nationally driven set of criteria for priorities in climate change adaptation has also been developed. MNRE reports that the development of Samoa’s NAPA was an good learning experience for all those involved, particularly the National Climate Change Country Team (NCCCT) and National Task Team (NTT). According to Rasmussen:"By adopting an integrated approach, all the relevant stakeholders both in government and non-government organizations have been able to work hand in hand to ensure that those whose livelihoods are most vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change impart the urgency and immediacy of the adaptation needs."--ENDS

Cherelle Jackson
Climate Pasifika Media team
Environment Weekly

E Moemoea--Cook Islands dances a wake up call to COP15

“We are part of the group that contributes less than one percent to the carbon emissions yet we are the ones to face the drastic impacts – so help us save not only our land, but also our culture,” say Pacific youth who used dance and performance to capture attention today at COP15.
Luana Bosanquet-Heays and Rikana Toroma of the Cook Islands performed a traditional dance to the Cook Islands song 'moemoea', meaning 'to sleep'. Their performance was a symbolic call on world leaders to wake up and take action to stop climate change.
Climate change not only threatens the existence of the small islands in the Pacific, it also threatens their diverse culture unique to them. With the hope of standing up to the threats of climate change and its impact on the vulnerable Pacific Islands, the two Cook Islands teens are part of Project Survival Pacific, a youth team who are in Copenhagen this week to campaign for their future as well as that of the generations to follow. In one of the exhibitions, they told of their fears for a Pacific future through story telling. Youth from Papua New Guinea, FSM, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji gave different accounts of how their countries were being faced with new challenges as a result of climate change. Their message: that land is not only an asset to them but also their identity and now the need is to save it. "The Pacific is at the forefront of climate change and it is imperative to get a positive outcome from the COP15 here in Denmark,” says Luana Bosanquet-Heays.

Rachna Lal
Climate Pasifika Media

YourVoices@COP15 -- Dr Graham Sem, Papua New Guinea

TRANSCRIPT: There is some sense of togetherness in a way. At the moment we haven't had any surprises yet. The only thing that might derail this is if we get a surprise from a country or a group of countries.  Thats the suspicion but we don't know.  I think there is a general feeling that we might not necessarily get a deal but some sort of a framework that will help us work towards getting that deal.

Something in the air: Wind adds to power at COP15

The word wind energy or wind power is becoming more common every day and it describes the process by which the wind is used to generate electricity. It has been proven that these types of energy help reduce carbon emissions.
Denmark was ready to showcase to the world how to increase energy efficiency with the impressive display of a 6.1 meter blade or a wind turbine at the Bella Centre host venue for the  United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen this week. Delegates, media, NGOs and other participants were greeted with the sight of the wind turbine blade at the conference venue with another wind turbine in some distance at the back already in operation to provide electricity during the event.

Water inspires Bluepeace NGO

Approximately 70% of the Earth is covered in water, hence the brainchild behind the name of an environmental non governmental oorganisation (NGO) based in the Maldives; Bluepeace.

20 years old, this environment organisation is represented in Copenhagen during the World’s biggest climate change conference ever.

The Maldive islands are 1,190 coral islands which form an archipelago of 26 major atolls that stretch 820 kilometers from the north to the south and 120 kilometers east to west. While this nation may be geographically distant to the Pacific islands their issues and challenges are very similar to that of the Pacific islands nations, they are also dreading a possible one metre sea-level rise by the end of this century.
It’s in Copenhagen that Bluepeace are bringing the effects of climate change to an audience of thousands with their photography exhibition “Vulnerable: the face of climate change in the Maldives”.

“We use the skills of our members to help promote and carry out the work of Bluepeace, and it’s proving very cost effective, our organization has helped make policy changes in the Maldives,” said Ali Rilwan (pictured) , a founding member of the organization. “But a major change we want to see happen will come from this meeting.”

Bluepeace has attended several climate exchange activities organized by the Danish Conservation Society while in Copenhagen, sending out the message of the vulnerability of the Maldives.

It is also an organization that is willing to establish a branch in the Pacific region should there be interest.

“We would like to see a Bluepeace in the Pacific, people are welcome to seek further information from us, we can share the lessons we have learnt ad we’d be happy if an organization would like to use our name, logo and style.”

To find out more on Bluepeace you can visit:

Nanette Woonton

Climate Pasifika

FIFA goes green for World Cup 2010

One of the world's biggest sporting events, the FIFA World Cup is preparing to going green come next year's games. This follows an annoucement at the United Nations climate change conference, that more than half of the countries that have qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa have committed to off-setting carbon emissions caused by their teams and officials' flights to the competition. The Oceania region who have enjoyed the excitement of playoffs such as those between the Solomon Islands and Dubai (pictured) will be represented at the 2010 FIFA World Cup by New Zealand, whose 48 team and officials, travelling to the games will be paying over 11 million US dollars, on off setting their carbon foot prints.

For the children: Solomons calls for legally binding agreement at COP15

Solomon Islands Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology Rence Sore (above) has told the opening plenary of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Denmark on Monday that failure is not an option in Copenhagen and that children will hold those attending COP15 to account for the outcomes of this conference. "We have been talking about Copenhagen since Bali. We are now in Copenhagen. Can we walk the talk and deliver what is expected of us here in Copenhagen? Can we make a difference after two years of negotiations?” he said.
Sore told an audience of more than 15,000 that for the survival of humanity in least developing countries and small Islands developing states a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement is necessary.
He said scaled up political agreement and enhanced agreement framework is not the answer to climate but a change that should happen in Copenhagen now.

“We often say in climate negotiations that it is the livelihoods of the most vulnerable that we are negotiating to protect. Should we fail in our negotiations our children will blame us."
He said if negotiation at the COP15 failed it’s the innocent children of the Small Islands Developing states(SIDS) and Least Developed Countries that would suffer most.
“They would always remain as victims of our failure to come up with a fair ambitious and legally binding agreement in Copenhagen,” he said.

Financial commitment and science key to COP15: Samoa

The Pacific delegations may be thinking it, but it took Samoa's Ambassador to the UN to voice a growing pressure on COP15 to deliver. 
“My simple message is this. We are not here just to make up the numbers. We are here because we need action now. Let us use science as the basis of all this so that people don't get off scot-free in terms of their responsibility. We appreciate the assistance given by our development partners, but at the end of the day we happen to share the same globe. As I said we call it our heritage, and our home, even though some may regard it as an investment and a disposable asset.” 
So said Samoa's ambassador to the United Nations Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia during a COP15 Pacific press conference, where he called on developed countries and major polluters in the developing world to act now in reversing the impacts of climate change.  Feturi (pictured) said there is no time to wait for change.

"Some are talking about saving the planet for future generations, but what about us who are here now,? We are not going to theorize about something that is going to happen in the future, maybe for some countries, but definitely for the Pacific and definitely for Samoa."

Feturi presented alongside Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia . He said the islands do not take the negotiations lightly.
"Samoa's (delegation) took over two days to get to Copenhagen, not because we want to make up numbers for the quorum so that the meeting can start. We are here because science instructed us to be here."

The UN Ambassador said developed countries should not underestimate the severity of the situation for Pacific islands.
“We have had two cyclones, and we have had to get loans from the World Bank to try and ensure that we can mitigate against some of the impacts of climate change. This is not something that we are trying to convince ourselves, because it is happening. That is why we have following the negotiations in good faith, to the extent that a lot of our Leaders will be arriving here next week.” Feturi said facts speak for the case of Samoa and other Pacific island countries feeling the impacts of climate change.

US will contribute to Copenhagen launch fund, says climate change envoy

The United States now joins Britain and France in backing a global fund that will provide millions of dollars to poor countries to help them reduce the output of greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
Like France, the U.S has not put any dollar figure to the proposed Copenhagen Launch Fund, announced last week by British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. U.S special envoy on climate change, Dr Jonathan Pershing said President Barack Obama has mobilised a number of world leaders to pour money into the fund.
“There appears to be an emerging consensus that a core element of the Copenhagen accord should be to mobilise $10 billion a year by 2012 to support adaptation and mitigation in d
 eveloping countries, particularly the most vulnerable and least developed countries that could be stabilised by the impacts of climate change.
“The United States will pay its fair share of the amount and welcomes statements by other countries which intend to make substantial commitments as well, said Dr Pershing (pictured).
The special envoy, who is here in Copenhagen as the alternate head of delegation for the U.S Government, urged other rich and powerful nations to support this global fund.“It’s not only a humanitarian imperative, it is part of a development accord that invests in our common security and the global economy."

Conflict resolution important to achieve COP15 consensus: Mediators Beyond Borders

While talks, agendas and lobbyists are in overdrive this week as countries strive to reach an agreement everyone is happy with, Mediators Beyond Borders are trying to convince people that mediation and conflict resolution skills are important to achieve consensus.
President of the US-based organisation Kenneth Cloke (above) says their mission is to build conflict resolution capacity around the world and they are hoping to ensure that , "the first time something goes wrong, the whole thing does not fall apart."
"Mediation is an extremely powerful method of dispute resolution and if you want climate change to work, you cannot use military force. What you can use is mediation so you have to  negotiate in a collaborative way with each other and that is the skill we are bringing," he said.
The organisation has beenmeeting delegates and handing brochures and no one has claimed this to be a bad idea so far.
Interestingly enough, he says, Solomon Islands has been the only nation so far who support mediation being the way to go. "This appreciation was at a government level and it means alot."
Explaining mediation, he added, "to solve any of the worlds problems, you have to learn how to live together as human beings on the same planet and we have not figured that out yet. But it's really easy - we have to treat each other equally and fairly, we have to earn to talk beyond our differences and overcome prejudices and biases. We have to have ways of responding when the communication breaks down."
The MBB has projects in 14 countries but hope to add some more from the Pacific as well and already have it pipelined for countries like Fiji and East Timor.
"We have members in Australia and New Zealand who are joining us in two projects in the Pacific and we hope to have more as we are only three years old now."
One of the founding members of MBB, Fiona Nagle agrees mediation is going to be extremely important to adjust the world to the new way of living.--ENDS

Rachna Lal
Climate Pasifika