Saturday 12 December 2009

COP15 delays verdict on Tuvalu's contact group call: webcast

Papua New Guinea breaks ranks with AOSIS and supports Brazil

Papua New Guinea, one of the members of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) has broken ranks with the group and supported Brazil’s position. This decision has not gone down well with some Pacific AOSIS members.

Solomon Islands head of delegation, Rence Sore said he was shocked by PNG’s position, which was relayed to the Conference of the Parties plenary session on Saturday.

“It is disappointing to hear statements from PNG during the plenary. It disunites the Pacific Islands and their priorities here at Copenhagen.

“We would have appreciated if PNG came openly to AOSIS meetings and conveyed their disagreement to the submission, said Mr Sore.

“If they had any bilateral disagreements with another country, it is best done dealt with bilaterally and not taken to the main plenary session, affecting the good intentions of AOSIS.

Papua New Guinea’s lead negotiator, Kevin Conrad, dropped the bombshell while speaking on the proposals by parties under Article 17 of the Convention at COP plenary session.

“We wish to associate ourselves with Brazil. However, we are seeking a legally binding agreement as soon as practicable.

“Some delegations have held out an AOSIS position. We do not support AOSIS. We believe there is draft non paper that should provide the basis of some discussion here, said Mr Conrad.

Jotham Napat, head of Vanuatu delegation said they are here to sign a deal and complete these negotiations in support of AOSIS.

“ Vanuatu is a member of AOSIS and we stand by the proposal made by AOSIS. We would like all the parties, particularly the developed countries to accept our proposal and endorse a legally binding agreement.” Mr Napat said.

Despite opposition from other countries as to the AOSIS proposal on the table, Cook Islands remains optimistic.

“We have to remain optimistic, once you start giving in, people start giving up their positions, said Myra Moekaa.

She said there appears to be some change of heart, especially in the big groups like the G77 and China.

“We can’t just hold on to our positions, we have to give up some of what we want in order to get something and vice versa. Other countries will also have to do the same.

“If we hold on to our positions too much, we aren’t going to get anything at all, said Ms Moekaa.

Cook Islands is keen to see an agreement to ensure ‘our survival.’

For the Federated States of Micronesia, the AOSIS position embodies the aspirations of its people.

“We support the AOSIS text. The critical part in the text for us is the numbers - 1.5 degrees ceiling of global warming, 350 ppm and the issue on financing.

“It’s a fight that we will continue because we are speaking from the perspective of reality, said Jackson Soram of FSM.

Joint statement today between Nicolas Sarkozy (President of France) and Gordon Brown (Prime Minister of Britain) in Brussels on 11 December 2009

We agreed:  

To work for an ambitious deal in Copenhagen, consistent with a maximum global warming of two degrees, to which all parties contribute, and which enables the EU to reduce its emissions by 30% by 2020. 

To enable immediate implementation of the Copenhagen agreement we support the establishment of a 'fast start' launch fund for 2010-12 which achieves $10 billion annually in 2012.  A large amount of this should go to adaptation, especially in Africa, small island states and other poor and vulnerable countries. France and the UK will each contribute their fair share among the advanced economies – around €400 million euros ($600 million dollars) a year. The UK is prepared to go further and contribute up to $800 million dollars a year in the light of offers from others.  

To ensure the predictable and additional finance in the medium term to 2020 and beyond, we should make use of innovative financing mechanisms, such as the use of revenues from a global financial transactions tax and the reduction of aviation and maritime emissions and the auctioning of national emissions permits. We will work together on this.

Rainforest countries need the security of finance now and for the coming years. We believe around 20% of early finance should be allocated to forest protection. We want the Copenhagen agreement to agree a reduction in deforestation of 25% by 2015, leading to a 50% reduction in 2020 and a halt in 2030. The developed world should pay for the majority of this, supporting developing countries' own efforts.   

To this end we will work with developed countries and rainforest nations over the next few days to deliver an equitable and effective agreement on forest finance and governance. We will jointly attend a conference of rainforest countries of the Congo basin next week in Paris. 

That long term financial support is needed to assist developing countries meet the costs of mitigation and adaptation, estimated at around €100 billion, in 2020. 

We are determined that Copenhagen agrees to put in place stronger global environmental governance.

There is much at stake at Copenhagen. We will be doing all in our power to reach the ambitious and comprehensive global agreement the world needs.

Time to deliver Obama, urge Tuvalu & Greenpeace

Makereta Komai, PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika
Copenhagen, 12 December - Tuvalu has joined calls by Greenpeace and other international NGO’s for President Barack Obama to deliver a fair and legally binding climate change agreement in Copenhagen.
Addressing the COP plenary session on Saturday, Tuvalu’s chief negotiator, Ian Fry urged the U.S President to honor his Nobel Peace Prize and address the greatest threat to security – climate change.
“Last week President Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize. Next week he should show leadership and honor his award through a climate change deal that is acceptable and legally binding.
The environmental group Greenpeace has urged the US President to show that he is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize by showing leadership in Copenhagen next week.
“He won it, and now is the time to earn it,” commented Damon Moglen from Greenpeace USA.
President Obama and about 110 heads of state and government will gather at the UN climate conference at the end of next week to try to agree on a political deal on how to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius.
Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday in Oslo.

Security tightens as Copenhagen prepares for world leaders next week

Makereta Komai, PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 12 December - Tight security measures are now being imposed, as Copenhagen prepares for over 100 world leaders expected in the Danish city next week to initial a new global climate change deal.

Bella Centre, the venue of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) has a capacity of only 15,000 people and the UNFCCC secretariat is monitoring the level of  access.

“This is progressively moving towards the limit, said an announcement made in Saturday’s daily programme.  The secretariat said ‘additional measures’ regarding access will be put in place.  To facilitate this security measure, all inter governmental (IGOs) and non governmental organisations (NGOs) will be issued with secondary cards in addition to their conference badges.

Only designated contact points of the admitted observer organisations and heads of delegations for these organisations will permitted to attend COP15.

IGOs and NGOs will be given a quota per organisation and these cards are transferrable.

“The quota per organisation will be recorded in the badge scanning system, so that the number of representatives entering the premises can be accurately counted.

Part of Bella Centre, close to where the main plenary sessions, where world leaders will speak is expected to be on lock down from Wednesday (16 December) when leaders make their country statements. 

Most of the powerful nations of the world – United States, China, Japan, United Kingdom, France and Germany will be represented  by their heads of states. 

President Barack Obama will address the Copenhagen climate change talks on 18 December, the day world leaders are expected to sign the new climate change agreement.

Heads of 11 Pacific Island Countries are confirmed to make their country statements next week.  They are Emanual Mori (President of the Federated States of Micronesia), Jurelang Zedkaia (President of Marshall Islands), Marcus Stephen (President of Nauru), Johnson Toribiong (President of Palau), Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare (Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea), Commodore Frank Bainimarama (Prime Minister of Fiji), Tuilaepa Sailele (Prime Minister of Samoa), Jim Marurai (Prime Minister of Cook Islands), Anote Tong (President of Kiribati), Apisai Ielemia (Prime Minister of Tuvalu) and Edward Natapei (Prime Minister of Vanuatu). Tonga and Vanuatu are represented by cabinet ministers,  Dr Viliami Tangi and Gordon Darcy Lilo, respectively.

Mitigation options will save Pacific islands from sea level rise: IPCC

Cherelle Jackson, Environment Weekly, Climate Pasifika
COPENHAGEN, 12 December - Pacific island countries such as Kiribati and Tuvalu may just be spared from experiencing further effects of climate change if immediate mitigation efforts are implemented by the international community.

This is according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In a Press Conference today in Copenhagen, the Chairman of IPCC DR.Rajendra Pachauri said: "If we were to take action, the cost of mitigation are really much much lower than what anyone had anticipated. Whats even more significant is that fact that there are huge core benefits in taking mitigation action."

According to Pachauri, the responsibility to reverse the impacts of climate change lies in the outcome of the United Nations Conference of the Parties and scientific findings should be considered.

"I think this is an issue that the negotiators have to come to grips with because there is value based judgement.  What I  would like to say is, the limit that we set as a target globally, in my view should
also depend on which parts of the world are going to be hit by the impacts of climate change to specific degrees."

IPCC identified sea level rise as an immediate concern for low lying islands, and this will only become greater by the decade.

"The temperature increase of two to 2.3degrees celsius if we were to limit temperature to that level, we would get sea level rise due to global expansion alone of 0.4 to 1.4 meters, for some parts of the world, that can be life threatening, lets accept it."

According to the IPCC Synthesis Report Increases in sea level are consistent with warming'.  The global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year over 1961 to 2003 and at an average rate of about 3.1mm per year from 1993 to 2003.

Ocean temperatures in the Pacific are also changing according to the Physical Basis Report by the IPCC.  Trends towards increased heat content in the subtropical Pacific are expected, although the northern Pacific ocean is cooling. 

Oceanic currents and circulation are also affected, IPCC reports: "The strength of the South Pacific subtropical gyre circulation increased more than 20% after 1993, peaking in 2003, and subsequently declined." 

In an interview with Vice Chair of IPCC, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the full impact of sea level rise for the Pacific was seen as not so drastic in the short term.

 "In the present rate the average sea level by about 3 to 4 centimeters every 10 years. Now 3 to 4 centimeters is probably not a catastrophe even if you have a low altitude, but on the longer term after a few decades it starts to matter."

He added that drastic changes could be triggered by severe weather events: "During the twentieth century we have had already about 15 to 20cm increase in average sea level, which means that if there is a storm for example, the starting level, when there is a tropical storm the level can increase temporarily over the average level.  If the starting point is slightly higher, the risk of overflooding is much higher. In the coming decades the increasing sea level is certainly a source for concern, but it won't change radically in the next ten years."

Ypersele explains more weather events may occur.

"Climate itself changes slowly, but it also means that the probability of strong events is affected, and changes for example, the frequency of extremely high rain events, precipitation is increasing, the frequency of heat waves is increasing as well. With warming climates some extreme events," he said.

At the national level IPCC identified some mitigation options such as the integration of climate policies in broader development policies, introducing financial incentives to stimulate the development and diffusion of new technologies and voluntary agreements between industry and governments on climate friendly initiatives.

At the community level IPCC recommended and noted evidence that changes in lifestyle and behaviour patterns can contribute to climate change mitigation across all sectors. 

Examples that can have positive impacts on mitigation include changes in consumption patterns, education and training, changes in building occupant behaviour, transport demand management and management tools in various industries.

Pacific multi-billon dollar Fisheries sector faces harsh future: Commonwealth report

Geoffrey Smith, FijiTV, Climate Pasifika media
Saturday 12 December 2009 COPENHAGEN--
Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands who both depend on their fisheries industry as a major source of foreign income risk losing their entire industries to climate change impacts, according to a  joint study by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).  
Scientist Dr Allan Stewart explained that with current temperatures shifts, it's likely that common tuna stock found in the central tropics of the Pacific will shift towards the poles.
Nations are already heavily dependent on fish not just for foreign exchange but also for daily sustenance. They now face a sobering reality, the World Fish Centre says. The ICTSD has reinforced the need for small island pacific states to diversify their economies.
Aid for Trade is now increasingly becoming common in the region with large trading blocs like the European Union signing trade agreements with Fiji and Papua New Guinea only yesterday here on the fringes of COP15. The ICTSD says it's an approach the region must also tread very carefully on.--ENDS

TRANSCRIPT:Gloria Carron - Program Officer, ICTSD
Because small island economies in general are highly dependent on specific sectors like banana and sugar etcetera, this makes them extremely vulnerable to shocks like the financial economic crisis as well as climate change challenges.  So this is one of the ways that these countries can build climate resilience that will be needed to face the concerns that are coming with climate change.  Crop mixing can also be supported with aid for trade resources for climate change objectives.
Dr Allan Stewart - World Fish Centre
Fish are going to move away from the tropics and into more temperate areas as our tropical oceans warm up. If you look at current fish populations and project whether they will be in the same conditions they will move towards the poles and so you are likely to see an increase in fish production in temperate areas and a decrease in the tropics.  That picture is complicated by the nature of ocean currents so in some cases you will see lateral movements east to west as well as north to south.In this report we looked at the Solomon Islands but the SPC is now doing a big study on climate change impacts across a whole range of sectors including fisheries and in fact the work I quoted is based on what their scientists have projected which is that common tuna species will shift into the central Pacific and away from PNG and the Solomon Island areas away from the eastern Pacific and further into the central Pacific.--ENDS

Strong support behind AOSIS

Rachna Lal, USP Journalism, Climate Pasifika
Copenhagen 11 December- fully support the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) who is the "David" battling the "Goliath" at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.  Yesterday, AOSIS proposed what has since been dubbed the Copenhagen Protocol designed to safeguard the Earth’s climate system and to secure the survival of its members.

In a joint press conference with AOSIS and, the founder, Bill McKibben said the text presented by AOSIS was the first really rational attempt to do what needed doing.

“The text grapples in many ways what science has been telling us over the last couple of years.  The AOSIS draft backed by all kinds of countries talks very specifically about a target 350ppm, a number which millions of people all around the world have been endorsing for the last 18 months precisely because science supports this."

He claims this AOSIS "Copenhagen Protocol" will prevent every kind of disaster that is breaking now, aswell as save the small islands nations.

“Some people will say these are small nations. But they have an army behind them with millions of people endorsing the efforts of AOSIS at 3000 vigils in every corner of the world," said McKibben.

"This weekend they will back the draft text to the hilt.  We will not back down, we will do this over and over until we win this fight.”

McKibbens perspective of AOSIS was further endorsed by Ricken Patel the Avaaz Director who believes that people have been looking for a champion and they found it in AOSIS.

“It is a really clear deal that we set for our leaders and that is what AOSIS calls for – it requires a legally binding treaty – an enforceable treaty. It requires a level of ambition to bring us down to a safe level of 350ppm,” Patel said.

“It also requires a fair amount of funding at least $200 billion by 2020 in finance.”

Ambassador Lima Joins, the joined both Bill McKibben and Ricken Patel in a joint press conference at COP 15.

“We are not negotiating business here, we are negotiating our survival,” said Joins.

“We are here to let them know we do not want to be forgotten and if we do not get 1.5 degrees, we will die ignored by the world.”

Joins, like his counterparts in AOSIS, is adamant not to leave Copenhagen without a legally binding agreement.

“If we leave Copenhagen without a strong commitment, how can we go in front of our children and tell them we could not do anything to save their future,” he added.

His disbelief was that the major emitters of the world could not see the disasters raging caused by climate change and how they would be prepared not to do anything about it.

“It is not us who have put the waste in he atmosphere yet it is us who are the first to have to suffer. So those who put the waste in the atmosphere have to clean it up.”

“Uh, hello? We live on this earth too” : Pacific missing from COP15 World Globe exhibit

Nanette Woonton, SPREP, Climate Pasifika media
Saturday 12 December 2009, COPENHAGEN--A huge standing exhibit featuring the nations of the world i
n the main hall of the COP 15 Bella Centre has irked island nations leaders here. Pacific islands countries bar Fiji and Papua New Guinea are already invisible, with NGO delegates loudly asking about the absence of the Pacific Islands from the globe exhibit. Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada, who chairs the Alliance of Small Islands States, has also mentioned this affront in her public meetings with the press.
However, come day six of the 12-day meeting, nothing has been done to paint in the Pacific countries and others that are missing on the World map. “It’s an insult. That is like somebody telling us that we are ready to be wiped off the face of the earth,” said an indignant Andrew Yatilman of the Federated States of Micronesia. “Our country is big – the territorial boundaries are huge, so how could someone not recognise FSM?” 
He and others are worried the large public centerpiece within the conference hall of the World’s biggest UN Climate Change Conference is symbolically wiping smaller countries off the face of the Earth, and smaller countries, already feeling this within the heated negotiating environment of the current meetings, are not taking kindly to the constant reminder of their invisibility.
Said one Pacific technical official, "The Alliance of Small Islands States are being given plenty of opportunity to be heard at this conference, their voice is coming across loud and clear through actions of members, the media and the NGO’s -- but the concern is whether or not they are being listened to by those from within the room compiling the text which will ultimately form a solution to our climate change problems."

"Anyone looking at this art piece, including the artist who made it, obviously thinks the Pacific islands which are members of AOSIS, don’t even exist at all." “I don’t know if it’s a sign of things to come, that we are going to be obliterated from this earth, it is insulting!” exclaimed Myra Pukaia Moekaa of the Cook Islands.
“It’s a disgrace to me. Vanuatu is a party to the convention and I expect these people to actually include all the Pacific Islands countries and we have every right to exist. We have every right to live so I was very disappointed to see that Vanuatu was not included in the globe,” said Jotham Napat of Vanuatu.  While it's possible the exhibit may have been produced to scale, it did not use a 'magnifier' box as is usual practice, zooming in on the small island nations missing from the COP 15’s version of the World.
"Goodness knows there’s enough white blank space on it," was one caustic remark, "THAT's all the space where the Pacific Islands is meant to be."--ENDS