Wednesday 16 December 2009

Solomons@COP15: Survival is not negotiable-- any political deal must lead to a legal agreement

Evan Wasuka, ONE News TV, Solomon Islands
Wednesday 16 December 2009, COPENHAGEN--With time running out for an ambitious outcome at the United Nations climate summit the head of the Solomon Islands delegation says his country is willing to accept a political agreement but only if it contains a time frame to a legal agreement.
Environment Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says it is apparent by the way talks are going that it’s not likely that a legal agreement can be reached by the end of the week. There is a whole range of distrust and further factions within groups,” says Lilo. The environment minister’s comment comes on the back of moves by the president of COP to lobby developing countries to consider a new text on a proposed agreement.
With talks faltering the COP President backed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon wants a new text to be considered at the expense of other proposals that have already been put forward over the past week and a half. The move though has yet to garner the support from developing countries. The content of the new presidential draft has not been shown to Solomon Islands and other developing countries and will only be seen – when it is tabled in COP – and accepted if there is enough support for the move. Lilo says the best way forward is for all parties to be honest with each other and come out openly and say whether it is a political agreement or a legal agreement that they are pursuing. “If we should have a political agreement they must give a timeframe –
when will we achieve a legal agreement. A process must be defined to get to the legal agreement.” Lilo says the agreement would also need to be binding and contain funding arrangement as prelude to any adaption action. Meanwhile the Solomon Islands in its national statement on climate change (full text below) demanded that industrial nations accept historical responsibility and take-up stringent measures to reduce greenhouse gases immediately.
With no agreement yet on the table and two days left, the environment minister says industrial nations need to take responsibility for their historical actions.
“Its therefore morally and ethically correct with developed countries, historical responsibility they need to adopt a package that will reduce their collective Green House Gases by more 45 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.”
Lilo says developed countries further need to also put things right by funding measures to correct past mistakes that have badly affected Pacific Islands countries.
“It is morally and ethically correct to provide new, additional predictable funding …must be over and above current ceiling of Overseas Development Assistance. “
Despite the deals being made at the talks the environment minister told COP that the impacts of climate change could not be negotiated and industrial nations need to take action at Copenhagen. “We have a unique opportunity here in Hopenhagen to take brave actions
and if we do not, climate change will seal our fate for us. “Mr President to us survival is not negotiable.”-- ENDS

Mr President:The Government and people of Solomon Islands join me, in congratulating you on your assumption as President of COP15 and we assure you of our support.
Mr President  :I speak in support of statements made by Grenada on behalf of Alliance of Small Islands States, Lesotho on behalf of Least Developed Countries and Sudan on behalf of Group of 77 and China. Mr President:The defining moment is here and now. After, two years of twists and turns in the negotiations, we have come this far. We began our journey in Bali, negotiated with each other in Poznan and know, here in Copenhagen, that scientific evidence demands decisive action. We must act with a sense of urgency, measured, and in a meaningful and balanced way, to significantly reduce emissions of all harmful greenhouse gases.
Mr President: As a small islands developing state with least developed countries status, outcomes of Copenhagen will shape our future. We therefore would like to see an ambitious two distinct tracks legally binding agreement on the Kyoto Protocol and the Long-term Cooperative Action.
We note that AOSIS has presented a legally binding Protocol which could be used as a basis for discussing a comprehensive outcome. We continue to encourage a transparent, inclusive party drive approach. Our process between now and Friday must be founded on trust and good faith, with a clear defined path to achieve our common goal of sealing the deal.
Mr President:The preamble of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change acknowledges that [quote] ‘the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries’.
It is therefore morally and ethically correct, with developed countries, historical responsibility, they need to adopt a package that will reduce their collective GHG by more than 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 95% below 1990 levels by 2050.
It is morally and ethically correct, to provide new, additional and predictable funding. This new, additional and predictable funding must be over and above current ceilings of Overseas Development Assistance. New fast track financing is welcomed, though we would like to see this managed in a sustainable manner within the Convention and Protocol frameworks.
Mr President:Ocean is pivotal to the existence of humanity in small islands developing states. Ocean is our friend and provider of our daily needs. We live and play with the ocean and it supports our livelihood. With the passage of time, the role of ocean has never diminished for us.
We have taken a number of adaptation and mitigation initiatives including the Coral Triangle Initiative which is a six country partnership on safeguarding the world’s richest marine ecosystem. Today I launched a community based REDD project which aims to conserve the largest unlogged tropical island in the Pacific.
Mr President:The combined effect of global warming is declining of coastal and marine resources in small islands developing states. This decline invariably affects the livelihood of humanity in small islands developing states.
Mr President:Can we reverse this decline and preserve humanity on planet earth? Yes, we can!
Mr President:Climate change knows no boundaries. We can not create any weak links within the international system. Solomon Islands welcome interest shown by those countries operating outside both the frameworks of Convention and the Protocol to join the global fight against negative effects of climate change.
Mr President:We have heard your call for flexibility and compromise in these negotiations. However we can not negotiate with science.
We are convinced that science should drive our decisions and science and local observations tell us that it is time to act now.
To stay alive we need long term stabilization of green house gas concentration well below 350 parts per million and global average temperature to be limited to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Mr President:We agree. Time is up. The window of action is fast closing and the futures of our people; born and unborn, abled and disabled are in our hands. We have a unique opportunity here in Hopenhagen to take brave actions and if we do not, climate change will seal our fate for us. Mr President, to us, survival is not negotiable.
Thank you, Mr President

Cook Islands@COP15: Kia Orana - may we all live on

Ulamila Wragg, contributing writer, Climate Pasifika

Wednesday 16 December 2009, COPENHAGEN--Prime Minister Jim Marurai has called on world leaders “to put words into serious action” with a fair and legally-binding agreement out of the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, underway in Copenhagen.
In a powerful speech (full text below) appealing to the emotions of world leaders, Marurai took the podium at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen with greetings of kia orana.
“I address you today to bring to the leaders of the world the plea of my people that they may continue to “live on” in their own country for generations to come,” Marurai said adding that the Cook Islands and its people are paying dearly for something that is not their making.
“To the Cook Islands people this conference represents hope – ‘Hopenhagen’ for the hope of my people who are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change – the loss of their homes, loss of their foods’ sources, their churches, the graves of their departed ones, and fearful for the impending loss of their land and therefore their livelihoods, culture, identity and sense of belonging as a people,” he told the 119 heads of state and government participating at the climate summit in Copenhagen, ranking the summit among the world's largest ever.

The 119 heads of state and government represent countries that account for 89-percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product, 82-percent of the world's population and 86-percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Included in the 119 countries are the 20 largest economies and the top 15 greenhouse gas emitters in the world
Marurai reminded world leaders that the Cook Islands has contributed very little to the problem of climate change, “yet we are paying so dearly for it”.
“The science is clear. What more evidence do we need? Even the pledges on the table right now do not guarantee the future of our children,” he said.
"Each year, the world comes together with the intention of moving forward on climate change. Almost two decades later, the talking has not delivered enough.
“Now is the time to put words into serious action … let the cry of the world be heard in Copenhagen and turn hope into certainty.
“My people want a fair, legally binding agreement from this Conference – an agreement that would secure a meaningful reduction in emissions, and guarantee support for adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change.
"We stand to lose everything. But this loss and damage is morally unacceptable, and humanly unjust. I have come a long way to give you this message. And it will be a long journey home to tell my people that this plea for their future survival has fallen on deaf ears.”
Marurai returns home on Friday.--ENDS

Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity to address this very important conference.
Your Excellencies, distinguished delegates – I extend to you greetings in my language: Kia Orana. Literally, these words of greeting mean: “may you live on”. Kia Orana expresses the hope that not only one as an individual lives on but that one’s lineage also lives on into the future. So once again let me greet the world by saying: “Kia Orana, may we ALL live on”.
Mr. President, I address you today to bring to the leaders of the world the plea of my people that they may continue to “live on” in their own country for generations to come.  At the outset, the Cook Islands supports the statements made by Grenada on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States – AOSIS. To the Cook Islands people this conference represents hope – ‘Hopenhagen’ for the hope of my people who are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change – the loss of their homes, loss of their foods’ sources, their churches, the graves of their departed ones, and fearful for the impending loss of their land and therefore their livelihoods, culture, identity and sense of belonging as a people.
Mr. President, the Cook Islands has contributed very little to the problem of Climate Change. Yet we are paying so dearly for it. The science is clear. What more evidence do we need? Even the pledges on the table right now do not guarantee the future of our children.
Each year, the world comes together with the intention of moving forward on Climate Change. Almost two decades later, the talking has not delivered enough.
Now is the time. Now is the time to put words into serious action. Sadly Mr. President, from what I have been hearing, some parties are not willing to respect our right – our right to survive.
My people want a fair, legally binding agreement from this Conference – an agreement that would secure a meaningful reduction in emissions, and guarantee support for adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change. We stand to lose everything. But this loss and damage is morally unacceptable, and humanly unjust.
I have come a long way to give you this message. And it will be a long journey home to tell my people that this plea for their future survival has fallen on deaf ears.
The opportunity is now. Let the cry of the world be heard in Copenhagen and turn hope into certainty. Say “yes” now to a fair and legally-binding agreement.
Kia orana e kia manuia.--ENDS

INsideINsights@COP15 -- Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, Samoa

From mainstream journalism to her own online environmental news-site, Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson takes in the sights, sounds, and talking heads of her second COP event and enjoys catching up with 'the locals'.



Mr. Chairman

It is not very often that the entire world concentrates its diplomatic and negotiating assets on one issue.

It is not very often that leaders from countries as diverse as Kiribati, in the Pacific; Ghana in Africa; Poland in Europe; Brazil in South and the United States in the Americas come together to fight and succeed at a common cause.

It is not often that leaders from over 120 countries come to the table to seek a collective solution to a common challenge.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, represents one of these unique occurrences. The entire world including my own tiny island Grenada and the rest of AOSIS come together to find solutions to our common climate problem. We must do so in a cooperative and participatory manner, chipping away toward the solutions we need.

Ladies and gentlemen, those of us gathered here today have a unique and historic responsibility to act.

We MUST act NOW ladies and gentleman, because there are millions of people depending on us to provide them with the assurances that their homes, their livelihoods, their communities, and their countries will not be swept away in the king wave of climate change.

They are depending on us to provide the assurances that life dependent ecosystems and ecosystem goods and services are preserved for this and future generations.

They are depending on us to act to protect our planet.

We must act NOW, because for some of us in the small island states, have no choice; for many of our states are already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change.

We MUST act NOW, ladies and gentlemen, because if we don’t, history will NOT absolve us.

Today represents the culmination of two years of work which we started in Bali in 2007. In Bali, we set ourselves a historic task, and our job here today is to complete that task. Our job here today is to ensure that the two tracks which we embarked upon in Bali - one under the Kyoto Protocol, and the other under the Convention - are each brought to its separate but complementary conclusion.

Ladies and gentlemen, if we are to fulfill this historic responsibility, we have to take ambitious and robust decisions which can set the world on a path that will prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change.

Such a path MUST include deep and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the requirements of the science: that is Annex 1 reductions in excess of 45% compared to 1990 levels by 2020, with global emissions peaking no later than 2015. This will ensure that we proceed along a path that will restrict long term temperature increases to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Over 100 countries have committed to this.

To achieve such safe levels, ALL countries, developed and developing, will have to take strong measures to achieve these emissions reductions in keeping with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

This will also ensure that adequate technical and financial support is provided to vulnerable countries, including small island states and least developed countries and the countries in Africa affected by drought and desertification;

To enable us to respond to the impacts that are already happening; to enable us to build climate resilient societies; and economies;

And to provide for the permanent loss and damage that result from climate change: for make no mistake about it ladies and gentleman, some countries among our AOSIS grouping have already had to begin the process of migration and relocation.

Mr. Chairman, I assure you that we in AOSIS come here ready to work. We want to leave here with strong internationally legally binding outcomes that will commit everyone to action.

We therefore issue a call to all our partners to join AOSIS in this effort to make this unique opportunity before us one that truly counts.

One that will fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the millions of people who are watching us now and depending on us to do the right thing.

One that will ensure that we achieve the goal of 1.5 to stay alive.

Let us ensure that no island is left behind.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman

EU challenges United States and China to keep global emissions to below 2 degrees

Makereta Komai, PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika
 Copenhagen, 16 December - The European Union has appealed to the United States and China to be honest with each other and the world and commit to keep global warming below two degrees celsius.

“I turn to you as a friend and committed partner and say, unleash your full potential and make it possible for the world to stay below two degrees, said Andreas Calgren of Sweden, who spoke on behalf of the 27 member European Union group of countries.

“From the United States, we expect, as from all developed countries, a legally binding economy wide commitment to reduce emissions. From China, we expect binding actions. Your ability to reduce emissions will be absolutely critical.

“You have come forward with your contributions in an international context, however the world needs more and we are confident that you have the ability to deliver, said Mr Calgren.

He said Copenhagen will not succeed without important contributions from emerging economies which must also reduce emissions significantly compared to business as usual.

The European Union has a binding legislation in place that will reduce emissions beyond 2020 and is prepared to reduce emissions by up to 95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990.

“We call on other developed countries to make this objective part of our Copenhagen Agreement.”

Almost the same theme was echoed by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), who urged all the developed countries to ACT NOW because millions of people around the world are waiting on Copenhagen to deliver.

“Such action must include deep and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the requirements of the science. Annex 1 countries must reduce in excess of 45 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2020, with global emissions peaking no later than 2015. This will ensure that we proceed along a path will restrict long term temperatures to well below 1.5 degrees celsius, said Tilman Thomas of Grenada on behalf of AOSIS members.

To achieve such safe levels, “ALL countries – developed and developing, will have to take strong measures to achieve these emissions reductions, said PM Thomas.

Long term co-operative commitment to mitigation remains a ‘sticking point’ in the current negotiations. Numbers and figures continue to be bracketed in the draft negotiating texts making it’s difficult to come to reach a consensus on an agreed text.

This morning, in a surprise move, the President of the Conference of the Parties (COP), Connie Hedegaard resigned, after intense pressures from the parties who showed no confidence in her leadership of the negotiations. She has been replaced by the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

Umbrella over promises and under delivers

By Cherelle Jackson, Environment Weekly, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 16 December
- A group of developed countries have promised to support efforts to ensure legally binding agreement at the end of the Copenhagen climate summit.

Represented by Penny Wong, Australias Minister of Climate Change, the Umbrella Group said commitment from all major economies was necessary for a solid outcome from the high level meeting.

"We recognize the industrial view of 2degrees Celsius outcome.  This can only be achieved if all act towards this target.  We are ready to make vision reality and we accept our responsibility to act."

Despite the promises, the commitment to stabilizing the increase in temperature from at 2 degrees Celsius goes against the hopes of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) who pledged 1.5 degrees to survive.

The Umbrella Group which is a loose coalition of non-European Union developed countries makes up a bulk of high emitting countries.  Although there is no formal list, the Group is usually made up of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US.

Wong said the Group is willing to go to great lengths for the sake of vulnerable countries in particular, small island states.

"We need a legally binding agreement of all major economies.  We differ in our capacity to act but we face a common threat and share a common future. Let's look to this future. The umbrella group stands ready to play full and fair part in a legal agreement to follow in 2010."

Wong says they are committed financially.

"We are prepared to put on the table emission targets that will reduce emissions, we are resolved to support financing, to assist vulnerable countries."

The Umbrella group again promised financial targets that the vulnerable countries had rejected.

"There is an emerging consensus to US$10 million dollars for mitigation and adaptation in vulnerable countries this is a key first step to providing financing to support adaptation."

Wong said the group supported substantial increases in financial investment but only after 2012.

She recognized action on the ground.

"Many countries both developed and developing have already demonstrated willingness to support at home. We need to internationalize this contribution to a low carbon future, we must know what gains we are making and therefore transparency is central."

Wong said a decision is vital.

"In the next three days we must seal the deal, we must give affect to full extent of what we agreed to in Bali, we must agree on how we translate political agreement to enduring commitment."

The Bali Road Map comprises a number of forward-looking decisions that represent the various tracks that are essential to reaching a secure climate future.  It includes the Bali Action Plan, which charts the course for a new negotiating process designed to tackle climate change, with the aim of completing this by 2009.

It also includes a 2009 deadline, the launch of the Adaptation Fund, a review of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as decisions on technology transfer and on reducing emissions from deforestation.

Wong assured their support of the Bali action plan and any action to ensure positive outcomes from the Copenhagen meeting.

Call to have open minds

Rachna Lal, USP Journalism, Climate Pasifika
Copenhagen, 16 December - Most advanced nations in their comfort zones perceive climate change in their minds.  “They do not feel the wreath of the ocean that we do we seek from the world our nature and ocean which is our source of survival,” said President of the Republic of Palau, HE Johnson Toribiong in a press conference during the final days of the COP 15.

The President is glad that of the 200 islands in the small island nations, there is higher elevation that people can retreat to however people have had to leave their small islands because they were becoming uninhabitable.

“In my view, I see climate change being similar to a tsunami which is moving slowly and finally gulping everything.”

He urged that the capacity of the nature has been stretched to the maximum and now needs to taken back to how it was before.

17 year old Solomon Islander, Christina Ora is at COP15 with the Pacific Youth Survival Project to tell the  world how they live with the impacts of climate change.

She implored the world leaders for a deal not for business but for survival, the survival of the future generations.

While on the same note, the Prime Minster of Vanuatu, HE Edward Natapei appealed to the developed countries to find a way of dealing with the survival of their small vulnerable nations.

“Anything more than 1.5 degrees will affect the coral reefs, coastal erosions, water resources as well as our existence,” he said.

With the conference reaching its peak, Pacific leaders are making their stand clearer for a legal deal here in Copenhagen.

Pacific countries will negotiate to the last minute

Evan Wasuka, One News Solomon Islands, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 16 December - As the clock winds down on a climate change agreement being reached at Copenhagen, Pacific Island leaders say they will continue to negotiate until the last minute.

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Edward Natapei says even with 48 hours left and still no clear progress in the talks, he was hopeful that a settlement could be reached by Friday.

“The developing countries in the Pacific are hopeful that we can still negotiate for 1.5 degrees. It’s a matter of survival…that we continue to negotiate to the last minute,” Natapei told reporters at a press conference.

He said Vanuatu continued to give its support to the proposal put on the table by the Alliance of Small Islands States, (AOSIS) despite the nature of the talks.

Key to the AOSIS proposal is a seven year extension to the Kyoto Protocol, the establishment of a new protocol agreement and the reduction of emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and all this to be tied to a legally binding agreement.

Although one of the region’s biggest countries Papua New Guinea appears to have moved away from the AOSIS proposal, its neighbours Vanuatu and Solomon Islands are still ardent supporters of the draft agreement.

The President of Palau Johnson Toribiong has also given his backing to AOSIS and he labeled developing countries, China and India, as unjustified for not supporting moves to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“I ask world leaders to focus at the clear and present danger of low lying islands,” said Toribiong.

AOSIS says if global warming rises to two degrees, the rise in sea level will put a number of Pacific Island countries underwater.

With the talks into its critical period Toribiong says too many big countries saw climate change as an “imaginary threat.”

“For those in the ocean can feel the roaring threat of the rising sea level.”

He says the danger of the rising sea levels have forced many Pacific Islanders to relocate their homes.

Shipping services should be urged to reduce emissions, Marshall Islands

Ruci Mafi, SPC, Climate Pasifika
Copenhagen, 15 December - The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat should invite the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to addresses emission reductions for international shipping, the Government of the Marshall Islands said in Copenhagen, Denmark at the 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to UNFCCC.

In his presentation, Edward Baron Bigler, Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs for the Marshall Islands, said that any reduction measure must reflect the IMO 9 Principles including applications to ships of all flags.
“Reduction targets must be achievable, recognize shipping sector differences and expected increase in shipping activity; and they should address unique vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to shipping measures,” Mr Bigler said.

Marshall Islands is a chain of 34 coral atolls and islands with a land area of 70 square miles over 750,000 square miles of ocean and a population of 50,000 people.

According to Bigler reduction targets must be achievable, recognize shipping sector differences and expected increase in shipping activity with the need to address unique vulnerability of SIDS to shipping measures.

“There is a need to have a sustainable based approach to shipping and emissions from this industry,” he said.

Speaking at a UNFCCC-COP 15 side event in Copenhagen, Denmark, Mr Bigler said it the emission reduction for shipping should bind all flag states, be cost effective, able to limit or at least effectively minimize competitive distortions.

A platform should be based on sustainable environmental development without penalizing global trade and growth, support the promotion and facilitation of technical innovations in the entire shipping sector, accommodate leading technologies in the field of energy efficiency and practical, transparent, fraud free and easy to administer.

Mr Bigler called on the IMO to fully participate in COP 15 meetings and working groups to ensure that voluntary energy efficiency operational indicator.

Cook Islands youth shares her experience at worlds biggest climate change conference

Rikana Toroma is a youth delegate traveling as a member of the Cook Islands official government delegation to the 15th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP15) on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Toroma, the 2009 Dux of Araura College in Aitutaki, won a speech competition organized by the National Environment Services for youths.

“First of all the weather is so not my type. It’s SO cold over here; I’m already missing the sun!!! My presence at COP 15 during the past few days has been loaded with a lot of climate change actions. I’m actually participating in the Project Survival Pacific team of the Australia Youth Climate Coalition team. So far, I’ve been raising my voice along side the other pacific youth delegates on what we want the outcome of COP 15 to be.

As leaders of the future, our job at COP 15 is to tell the leaders of the world to choose wisely and act upon the effects climate change has to our countries. We Pacific Islanders are on the frontline of the effects of climate change. Our countries will be the first to be effected if the leaders don’t seal the deal here in Copenhagen.

We have been in action since day one, and I’ve been fascinated by our talented Pacific youth delegates. Luana and I did a little Cook Island dance and performed it as part of our culture show. That was to let people know that if we lose our islands – I’ll lose my culture, my identity and my home. There is no other place in the world I can call home.

Last week we handed out Smarties (chocolates) at the entrance of an Adaptation Policy Negotiation room to help our leaders make smart decisions. I reckon that was pretty AWESOME!!!!

I’ve also been in a lot of media interviews – BBC News, Germany TV, Danish Radio and just interviews from people who haven’t heard about the Cook Islands and just want to learn more about how climate change is affecting the Cook Islands.

I attended some negotiation meetings with the Cook Island delegates; Tania, Mii, Diane, Pasha, Liz and Myra; and I find it really informative. My presence in these negotiations means a lot to me, especially being the youngest in a meeting where the leaders of the world sit together and create solutions to reduce the impact of climate change.
Last weekend I took some time off to see the sights and sounds of Copenhagen, and this week I want to achieve my goal of being here. I want to make sure that the leaders of the world seal the deal and make a positive change on the effects of Climate Change.

I want them to secure my future by making smart decisions. I don’t want them to keep negotiating, because my survival and every other human beings survival on this planet is not negotiable.  From that, I wish to take back a positive message to the people of the Cook Islands, maybe have strategies on how we Cook Islanders can manage in the face of climate change.

So I hope to leave this place with positive changes and look forward to a better future.”   

High Level Segment delayed as parties question draft text introduced by the president of COP15

Makereta Komai, PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika

 Copenhagen, 16 December - The High Level Segment session of the global climate change talks in Copenhagen was delayed by forty minutes Wednesday as China, India, Brazil, Sudan, South Africa and Ecuador intervened and questioned the chair on a new draft text introduced by Denmark.

China and Brazil intervened a number of times seeking an assurance from the Danish PM, Lars Lokke Rasmussen that the two draft texts negotiated by the parties will form the basis of the final outcome of the Copenhagen talks.

“With respect to you and other distinguished leaders here, we are not trying to obstruct the progress of the process.

“We are concerned with the presidency putting forward a text without fully consulting with the parties, said a Chinese delegate.

In support, Brazil and India lamented the hard work put into the marathon negotiations, from last night to seven this morning.

“This is not just a matter of procedures but we want the presidency and the host to respect the views of the 192 parties present here, said the Indian official.

“The outcome of this process should be state driven and we will be concerned if a text is made outside this process, said the Indian delegate.

China, maintains that ‘substantative’ discussions need to be urgently done on what will form the final outcome of the Copenhagen deal.

“Unfortunately the presidency put something from the sky – it’s a matter of serious concern to us and an injustice to the process.

“How can she put that forward a text without consulting with the two important working groups? We need you to clarify that the output of the AWG- LCA, AWG-KP will form the only legitimate basis for discussion in the negotiations, said the Chinese official.

The Danish PM had to consult with the UNFCCC executive secretary on a few occasions to get directions on how to move the discussion.

Even after assurances by Yvo de Boer that the Conference of the Party would convene later in the day to discuss the two negotiated texts, the Group of 77 and China countries, continued to raise their objections through points of order.

PM Rasmussen then assured all the parties that the session was dedicated to world leaders for their statements.

“It’s not our intent to put any text from the sky. We are talking about a two track text that will be discussed in the COP plenary. The world is watching us and expects a climate change deal from us, so we should move on.

The Danish Prime Minister took over the presidency of the High Level Segment from his climate change negotiations minister, Connie Hedegaard.

Solomon Islands hold energy efficiency talks

By Evan Wasuka, Solomon Islands One News, Climate Pasifika  

Copenhagen, 15 December - With 70 per cent of its imports bill going into fuel to supply power to its population, the Solomon Islands is more than keen to become energy efficient.  After all, the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority as a state owned body spends millions of dollars on supplying fuel to the public.

The Solomon Islands delegation leader at the Copenhagen conference, Gordon Darcy Lilo says it makes environmental and economic sense to switch to renewable energy sources.  On Tuesday he held talks with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) body and pledged that the government would look at ways to promote energy efficiency.

"We'll look at tariff reductions on new energy efficient technology and promote energy efficiency...this will save a lot on our GDP pressure," said the environment minister.  

Solomon Islands currently have a project under submission to REEEP for an energy audit on power usage in the Solomon Islands.  The aim of the 100,000 Euro project proposal is to map out the consumption use of consumers in the Solomon Islands.

"The data collected will be used to help the government draw up regulations on energy, such as those for energy consuming appliance," says Solomon Islands Energy Deputy Director Nixon Kua.

He says this will be beneficial in terms of cost cutting and for the reduction of emissions.  REEP is expected to make a decision on the project proposal by June.

COP15 president replaced by Danish Prime Minister: national statements begin

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Climate Pasifika Media

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE PACIFIC AND GLOBAL COUNTRY STATEMENTS VIA THE UNFCCC LIVE WEBCAST (Pacific national statements will  be uploaded and reported as our team cover them)

Wednesday 16 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- The discontent in the COP15 corridors with time-consuming wrangling over process and procedure leaving too much bracketed text for a positive outcome came to a head on Day 10. COP President and Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard stepped back for her boss, host country Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen to take over as plenary chair and COP15 President. The reason, according to news reports flaring from her announcement at this morning's plenary, is that the meeting which has now entered into high-level phase, requires a high level chair to match the level of the 120 world leaders in attendance. of chair. This doesn't explain the timing of Hedegaard's replacement, or why there was no prior announcement . With all eyes on Denmark, everyone who has come here also wants to leave with something. The problem is that time is running out for COP to be able to deliver a legally binding agreement which will let delegates leave Copenhagen smiling. For its part, Denmark's pro-active presidency could well have provided the context for Hedegaard stepping back. Her pro-active efforts to try and accommodate a good outcome have ironically created the very situation the Danes are trying to avoid. They stepped up engagement with the US position, knowing that Obama's senate will not be able to deliver a verdict allowing him to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol for the next six months. Other key groups such as the EU are pinning their support on the US signature, and the Danish presidency have hosted pre-COP events around the world aimed at building consensus. However it was their draft text for an agreement, leaked to the media last week that began rousing anger from some developing countries unhappy with feeling left out by what they saw. The leaked document also fuelled some developing country doubts on the neutrality and role of the COP President. Lengthy working group and plenary processes allowing 'obstructionist' tactics to slow down any real chance of reaching progress on text, have dogged negotiators.Just before the High Level Meeting statements began to flow, Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen reminded the leaders of the reason why his nation wanted to host the world's most important global event in decades.ENDS
"I still hope, and hope is bright green-- that the presence of so many heads of government in COP will pave the way for a successful outcome," he said,"Your presence makes a simple point. We are one planet. We share the same fate. We are all in this together."

Oxfam Hears from the Vulnerable

Rachna Lal, USP Journalism, Climate Pasifika 
Copenhagen, 15 December - Many people present at the COP15 in Copenhagen from different parts of the world have a story to tell about their experience with the effects of climate change.

Oxfam international organized the International climate hearing event to call upon people to talk about the adverse effects of climate change they are faced with.

“All these people out there have one goal and that is to have their story about their daily struggles due to climate change out in the public,” said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. (Pictured below)

“People have been protesting on a daily basis here in Copenhagen for those whom they do not even know yet are feeling the strong brunt of climate changes.  It touches my heart to see such goodness in these people.”

The outcome of the conference for the Archbishop here in Copenhagen is the difference between survival and doom.

“Those hundreds of people speaking here in Copenhagen are the voices of billions who could not be here.  These people are losing everything as natural disasters are affecting them glaciers are melting away also salt water affecting their food and water resources and supply,” he said.

He reiterated what has been in the air since the beginning,  unless a legal agreement is signed the disaster already in progress will worsen and destroy the heritage and livelihood of all the vulnerable people of small developing and less developed countries.

Kiribati born Tuvaluan, Pelemise Alofa, told her heartbreaking story to the gathered crowd about the situation back in her homelands.

“Our islands are sinking and we need people to understand that COP15 means a matter of life and death for us and so it is not a business deal nor can it be negotiated,” she said.

It is believed that people from the Pacific have a big heart and Alofa was here to spread that love here at the COP15.

“We do not have mountains and rivers back home yet we know we are meeting people stronger then us and my message to those strong people is to learn to love and care about other people like we do.”

Mary Robinson (left), former Irish President and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that climate change is undermining human rights on an unprecedented scale.

“World’s poorest people have the least input in carbon emissions yet they are the ones who are badly affected and the industrialized countries must reduce their emissions by 40 percent to secure the livelihoods of these people yet we are seeing such less commitment from countries,” she said.

She demanded the need for good leadership in order to end up with a realistic commitment at the end of the conference.

The most important half a degree of the COP15 -- Language the lifeline in the last 48 hours

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Climate Pacific media
Wednesday 16 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- As Pacific and other AOSIS negotiators work tirelessly to clear brackets and red lines towards a common language amidst the frantic pace of the next 48 hours to the COP15 closing, heads of state are being reminded to hold strong to the 1.5 to stay alive position and it's add-on, 2 degrees is 2 much.
"Language like below 2 degrees without saying ultimately you need to drop below 1.5 degrees could in fact be quite dangerous politically and legally for the small island states because they are then conceding that possibly 2 degrees is OK when in fact it's not,"
says climate scientist Dr Bill Hare. The
Australian is a leading figure in international climate change debate. The lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former director of Greenpeace International Climate Policy, is now a visiting fellow with the Denmark-based Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.--ENDS  (transcript and audio below)

TRANSCRIPT: LWL: Bill, the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees-- only half a degree. Why is it so critical? From the science side, the impacts of climate change increase quite rapidly with temperature, so that getting back below 1.5 degrees is quite important to the survival of many small island states and low lying regions, because in this region of climate change, you avoid the a lot of the most damaging effects and start to slow down sea level rise quite significantly. Heading towards 2 degrees or above, the impacts on small island states are wholly unacceptable, in most cases, including consequences for long term sea level rise. Now the issue here in these negotiations over how to reflect these issues is also important. Language like below 2 degrees without saying ultimately you need to drop below 1.5 degrees could in fact be quite dangerous politically and legally for the small island states because they are then conceding that possibly 2 degrees is OK when in fact it's not. That's why the 1.5 degrees and 350 parts per million (PPM) message is so mportant because the small islands states need to lay out the case for their long term survival and have that entrenched in an international agreement that could progressively work towards the emission reductions that will need to occur over the next century in order to limit warming to those levels.--ENDS

Soundbites@COP15 - Pidgin Interview Maylin Sese

Ahimsa Kibikibi, PNG National Broadcasting Corporation, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen 15 December - Pidgin: Interview with Maylin Sese of the Australia Youth Climate Coalition, Project Survival Pacific.

Ol yut or yangpla manmeri tu i kam long Copenhagen long tokaut long wonem Pacific i mas kisim behain long displa ol toktok na long wonem as tru displa ol toktok i bigpla tru long ting ting blong ol.

Yangpla blong Solomon Islands husat i pilim tru displa bikpla hevi blong climate change, em bai hamamas tru sapos wanpla gutpla deal long senisim Kyoto Protocol bai kamap displa Fraide.

Maylin bai tokaut moa long bikpla laik blong em i laik i mas kamap. 


Soundbites@COP15 - REDD, Andrew Babatunde

Ahimsa Kibikibi, PNG, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 15 December - Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or REDD, is often described as a 'perverse' mitigation measure but for one African country, it may save their remaining rainforests.

While REDD is complicated and may involve a lot of effort, for Nigeria the stakes for REDD are very high as deforestation of the 10 percent remaining forest, accounts for most of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Nigeria's Andrew Babatunde is convinced REDD or avoid deforestation, may save the remaining 800 thousand hectares of forest, which is owned by the state but is being deforested at 2 percent per year, one of the highest deforestation rates in the world.

He is also optimistic that going into REDD may allow Nigeria, bring down its high carbon emissions rate.  

"REDD and addressing land use change, is actually critical to bring down Nigeria's emissions, if deforestation continues unchecked, you will see the disappearance of the Cross River State rainforest within the next 10 to 15 years,"

Unlike Pacific Islands advocating for REDD, particularly the bigger Melanesian countries, PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji and Solomon Islands, to improve the lives of forest owners, REDD in Nigeria is seen as neccessary for the survival of its remaining rainforest and bio-diversity, from deforestation.

Soundbites@COP15 - High level speakers, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa

by Ahimsa Kibikibi,PNG National Broadcasting, Climate Pasfika

Copenhagen 15 December - Pacific leaders, through their respective delegates have been vocal on why they are here in Copenhagen. Climate Pasifika gives their voices.


Colonel  Samuela Saumatua - Fiji's Environment Minister
"No amount of money can resurrect what has been submerged or reverse the devastating effects of natural disasters. It is crucial that we adopt targets of mitigation activities that provide for long time stablization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concerntration and well below 350 parts per million. "

Colin Beck - Permanent Representative of the Solomon Islands to the United Nations
"When we speak of quick finances, I think it also needs to link to the long term goals, so its not about money its about survival for us. Finally I would like to say, it is a matter of urgency and failure is not an option. "

 Feturi Elisaio - Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations
"We are here because science instructed us to be here and science instructed us to act now, why because we share the same planet and for Samoa, we call this planet our heritage, it is also our home, for some they call it an investment or a disposable asset." 

Pacific Voices @ COP15: Amena Yauvouli, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Geoffrey Smith, Fiji TV, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 15 December - The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPC has also weighed in on the critical importance of attracting much needed financing for adaptation projects in the region.

Amena Yauvoli of the SPC says while negotiations are slower than expected, they are still confident that donor agencies will understand the need within the Pacific region to keep the momentum going particularly in three countries who are y beneiciaries of a German government funded forestry conservation project.

Amena Yauvoli; Secretariat of the Pacific Community
The progress so far has been very slow.  I was in the AOSIS meeting last night and we tried to help to steer back the process so that we can maintain our focus to help our chair which is Grenada come back into full grip of the issues at hand. So for us at SPC we are also working with our partners here, we have some traditional donor partners like GTZ.  I just had a meeting this morning with one of the senior German government officials trying to arrange a meeting with our regional member countries particularly Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu who are currently benefiting from a program that GTZ is running in these three countries.

That is the kind of partnership levels that we want to encourage and which we want to strengthen and we want to secure additional financial resources as well as helping our donors understand the adaptation initiatives that has been agreed to by our leaders which SPC plays a prominent role and we look towards our donor, our development partners to assist us at the regional level to increase our service to our members so that they are able to address climate change challenges that we are facing, mitigation and adaptation issues.  So thus far we still hoping for the best out of Copenhagen.

Pacific Voices @ COP 15: Professor Patrick Nunn, Pro Vice Chancellor, USP

Geoffrey Smith, Fiji TV, Climate Pasifika

Geoffrey Smith, Fiji TV, Climate Pasifika
Copenhagen, 15 December -One of the Pacific's leading academic institutions, the University of the South Pacific doubts there will be a legally binding agreement out of COP15.

But on the same note USP's Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Patrick Nunn remains hopeful that some form of agreement will be struck immediately after the historic climate change meeting.

Professor Nunn implies that while it is good to be hopeful, the region also has to be realistic about some of the possible outcomes out of COP15.

Professor Patrick Nunn, Pro Vice Chancellor, USP

Well I hope we going to be reaching some kind of agreement. I think its very important for the planet as a whole that we do get there but at the moment I don't think that we are going to reach an agreement, I haven't been sitting in all the plenary sessions but I feel there is going to be enough goodwill generated at this meeting so if we don't actually get an agreement at the meeting itself, we will get an agreement maybe six months or so down the line that will be what we want.