Monday 29 November 2010

Mitigating climate change: Vanuatu leading by example with Renewable Energy targets

Ambassador Donald Kalpokas from Vanuatu to the UN

The power utility of Vanuatu (UNELCO) has set itself a goal of generating 33% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2013.   Here at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention, Vanuatu hopes the world will agree to strengthen climate change mitigation policies.  Although the nation is amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change it is also amongst those countries that barely contributes to the global problem. 

Despite this, Vanuatu is not discouraged in taking action and is doing what it can do to reduce carbon emissions by growing their reliance on renewable energy.

 “Vanuatu’s position is similar or closely linked to the Small Island Developing States, we hope to have some outcomes here concerning mitigation, when it comes to that we’d like to see support for our renewable energy projects and hope to make a case for that here through dialogue with our Pacific partners,” said Ambassador Donald Kalpokas, Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Hoping for success at this conference in Cancun, Vanuatu is also interested in seeking further support to achieve their renewable energy targets.  Partners such as the Government of Italy and Austria have helped the country in achieving their energy goals, but at this meeting it is hoped that they will be able to negotiate for further developing assistance.

Vanuatu is part of the Pacific family that is attending the Cancun climate change talks, strengthened by Prime Minister of Vanuatu who is leading the delegation.  In all there is a team of eight that is joining the Small Islands Developing States to strive for success in Cancun.  As current chair of the Pacific Island Leaders Forum, Vanuatu is taking its responsibility seriously in supporting the rest of the Pacific at these negotiations.

“Even if we don’t get a legally binding agreement here, we want to see a way forward from here so that the next Conference of the Parties will address this issue.”

The 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Conference on Climate Change is held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 11 December.

Kiribati hopes Ambo Declaration reflected in Cancun climate outcomes.

Andrew Teem (middle) with members of the Kiribati delegation

28 November, Cancun, Mexico - Kiribati has had a demanding year as the small island nation strengthens its stance at the climate change negotiations.  There is a 13 strong delegation that will be in attendance at the UN Climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, led by President Anote Tong.

In November this year the Tarawa Climate Change Conference which brought together 18 Small Island Developing States from the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region including Australia and New Zealand, resulted in the Ambo Declaration (please read below/attached).  It is hoped that the Small Islands developing States will take on essential parts of the Ambo declaration to be negotiated for in Cancun.

“What Kiribati would really like to see from the conference here in Cancun would be that at least some of the more important elements of the declaration itself can be taken on board with that at least with the negotiations,” said Andrew Teem, the Senior Policy Adviser for the Office of the President in Kiribati.

“It would be ideal if these could be reflected in the decisions that come out of Cancun.”

As with other Pacific island nations that engage in the climate change negotiations, the issues of ‘adaptation’ and ‘financing’ are significant concerns for Kiribati.  The expectations for a solid agreement at this Cancun climate conference are being downplayed however for Kiribati they are still hopeful for some positive outcomes as are other members in the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS).  Teem states they have to be realistic in the expectations from this meeting and should focus on the issues that can lead to solid decisions at a later date.

“The reality of the situation at the moment is that it will not be possible within the next two weeks to come up with something solid which is better than an agreement that would mean nothing later on.  We need to work to make sure the decisions that come out of Cancun will need to reflect the same concerns that we have been advocating over the past few years.”

The UNFCCC COP 16 is held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 11 December. 

Text from the Ambo Declaration - can be read in proper layout at:

We, Leaders, Ministers and Representatives of Governments participating in the Tarawa Climate Change Conference held on 10th November 2010, recognizing that, climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and that there is an urgent need for more and immediate action to be undertaken to address the causes and adverse impacts of climate change, expressed;
1. Alarm at the impacts of the climate change crisis already being felt in our countries threatening the sustainable development and security of our countries, especially the immediate threat to the livelihood and survival of the most vulnerable States on the frontline, including Small Island States, Least Developed Countries and countries susceptible to drought and desertification;
2. Grave concerns over recent scientific findings on the worsening state of the global
climate as a result of human induced climate change, especially the primary impacts such
as sea level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather events and their adverse
consequences, threatening the survival of atoll and low lying nations, their people and biodiversity;
3. Acknowledgement that anthropogenic climate change can be mitigated through greater cooperation by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and through individual and global commitment to achieving deep cuts in current and future emissions levels, and agreed to pursue this vigorously;
4. Ongoing commitment to the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Road Map mandate and to building on the political understandings of the Copenhagen Accord.
5. Deep concerns over the slow pace that international negotiations within the UNFCCC is taking to reach legally binding agreements necessary to meet the ultimate objectives of the Convention and call upon all Parties to work together to fast track the pace of these negotiations to safeguard the future of peoples, particularly those in the most vulnerable States in the frontline;
6. Acknowledgement that there are elements of common ground in the negotiations that can
be agreed on to form the basis of action in the immediate term, elements which when implemented will reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of developing countries, in particular, the most vulnerable States on the frontline, especially Small Island States, Least Developed Countries and those countries susceptible to drought and desertification.
7. Express concern over loss and degradation of biodiversity and its impact on human livelihood and welfare, in particular, in the most vulnerable States in the frontline, and also concern over the emissions added by land degradation;
8. Recognise the connection between low cost, sustainable adaptation and mitigation options and maintaining a healthy biodiversity and urge all nations to use aspects of biodiversity to increase their climate resilience and pave the way for cost-effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable development especially in the most vulnerable States in the frontline and further support the initiatives to implement the outcomes of CBD COP 10 including the CBD Biodiversity Strategic Plan 2011-2020.
We, Therefore Declare our resolve in moving forward with our collective commitment to addressing the causes and impacts of climate change and:
9. Call for decisions on an “urgent package” to be agreed to at the COP 16 for concrete and
immediate implementation reflecting the common ground of Parties, consistent with the principles and provisions of the Convention , and the Bali Action Plan, inter alia, to assist those in most vulnerable States on the frontline to respond to the challenges posed by the climate change crisis;
10. Welcome the growing momentum and commitment for substantially increasing resources
for climate change financing and call on developed country Parties to make available
financial resources that are new and additional, adequate, predictable and sustainable, and
on a clear, transparent and grant basis to developing country parties, especially the most
vulnerable States on the front line, to meet and address current and projected impacts of
climate change;
11. Acknowledge that the new fund to be established under the Convention should be operationalized as soon as possible with efficient and transparent institutional arrangements that ensures improved access, a balanced allocation of resources between adaptation and mitigation and considers the unique circumstances of most vulnerable States in the frontline;
12. Acknowledge that the new fund should provide for developing countries and in particular,
the unique circumstances of the most vulnerable States on the frontline to the adverse impacts of climate change;
13. Call on Parties to the UNFCCC to consider the need for establishing an international mechanism responsible for planning, preparation for, and managing climate change related disaster risks in order to minimize and address the environmental and economic costs associated with loss and damage;
14. Urges the developed country Parties to the UNFCCC to support the implementation of country-driven institutional strengthening and concrete adaptation priorities aimed at reducing vulnerability and building resilience in developing country Parties, in particular, the most vulnerable States on the frontline to the adverse effects of climate change;
15. Support consideration of the development and implementation of strategies and actions
directed at protecting people displaced within or across borders as a result of adverse
effects arising from climate change extreme events;
16. Call on the developed country Parties to support the implementation of capacity building
and transfer of technology priorities of developing country Parties to enhance their ability to contribute to the rapid reduction and mitigation of global emissions and to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and further supported by transfer of environmentally sound technologies on mitigation and adaptation;
17. Call on developed country Parties to give priority support to the capacity building and technology transfer needs and priorities of the most vulnerable States in the frontline due to the urgency of the climate change crisis facing them;
18. Called on all Parties to the UNFCCC, in recognition of the urgency of the climate change crisis, to aim for concrete decisions at COP 16 that will give an explicit mandate for the timely conclusion of negotiations towards a legally binding outcome in line with the Bali Road Map and the political understandings of the Copenhagen Accord;
Adopted in Tarawa, Kiribati, 10 November, 2010
Adopted by:

Climate financing a focus for Fiji at Climate negotiations in Cancun

Members of the Fiji Delegation with delegate from the Forum Secretariat and Palau

28 November, Cancun, Mexico - ‘Easy access to climate change funding’ is a key concern for Fiji at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico (COP 16).   The issue of new funds to help address climate change concerns in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and where they will be managed from has been under discussion during the negotiations this year. 

“For Fiji, wherever the fund is ultimately,” said Sainivalati Navoti, Director Political and Treaties in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Fiji, “what we would like to see is easy access to that fund, accessible sources of the fund that allow us to continue to address that challenge that climate change poses for Fiji.”

There is a strong team in the official Fiji delegation from diverse fields to accompany the Fiji government representatives including the Pacific Council of Churches and the Fiji media.  With a wide range of delegates, Fiji intends to be meaningful contributors to the negotiations process as they have been with other Pacific island nations since the negotiation meetings increased under the Bali Action Road Map.

“This is the reality of multi-lateralism, if we want to have a binding treaty we need to negotiate and it’s not easy because there is a lot of sovereign interest at stake.  If we do come up with a treaty it has to be give and take, we need to talk and identify areas that we can arrive at a compromise because that is the rule of the game and we have to play.”

The head of delegation for Fiji is Col. Samuela Saumatua the Minister of Local Government, Housing, Urban Development and Environment.  He is accompanied by Fiji’s Ambassador to the European Union, Ambassador Peceli Vocea, who is also the board member of the adaptation fund.  The Director of Environment of Fiji is also a member of the delegation along with those from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Environment and other partners.

The UNFCCC COP 16 is held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 11 December.