Tuesday 30 November 2010

Values of Mexican goddess to inspire climate change negotiators – Figueres

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media Team
29 NOVEMBER 2010 CANCUN ---- Reason and creativity, values of the Mayan goddess Ixchel, is what UN climate chief hopes will inspire climate negotiators to reach an ‘acceptable’ deal in Cancun in the coming 12 days.
Addressing the formal opening session at the Moon Palace Tuesday, Christiana Figueres urged negotiators to be guided by reason and compromise as they weave the new climate change tapestry the whole globe is waiting for.

“Weaving this tapestry is urgent to allow the poorest nations who need a predictable and sufficient help to deal with the climate crisis they are already experiencing.

“I urge you to resolve these issues with priority so that a balanced outcome in Cancun can be achieved. A tapestry with holes will not work and the holes can only be filled in through compromise, said Ms Figueres.

She was quick to admit however that progress will not happen if unresolved issues from both the two negotiating tracks – Long term Co-operative Action (LCA) and the Kyoto Protocol – are not resolved.

For LCA – negotiators need to formalise mitigation proposals put forward by Parties in 2010, mobilise long-term finance and create a new fund with the accompanying accountability of its delivery and response measures.

Similarly under the Kyoto Protocol, Parties need to clarify the future of the Protocol and avoid a gap after the first commitment period.

The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, after which Parties need to negotiate a new international framework.

Speaking at the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on KP, Tuvalu’s lead negotiator, Ian Fry pleaded with Parties to make a decisive decision on the future of KP.

“Tuvalu is disappointed that two emerging two positions on KP – one group wants progress while the other wants incremental progress.

“Small vulnerable states don’t want KP to be held hostage in the long term co-operative action (LCA) process.

“It’s either we give life to the Kyoto Protocol or take the life of people in vulnerable countries, said Fry, to the applause of hundreds of delegates at the opening session of AWG-KP Monday.

Earlier, at the LCA session, Papua New Guinea stirred debate when its chief negotiator, Kevin Conrad suggested that the Conference of the Parties resort to its Rule 42 to allow for a transparent process of negotiation.

Konrad referred to last year’s Copenhagen Accord as an example of the failure of the UNFCCC process. After two weeks of negotiations, more than 20 world leaders put together the Copenhagen Accord, which did not reflect most of the issues agreed to in the negotiations.

“Consensus leads to settling issues at the lowest common denominator.

Konrad said PNG wants more transparency and participatory in the process and suggested the use of rule 42 to resolve issues in the negotiation process.

Rule 42 of the Draft procedures of the Conference of the Parties (COP) states that Parties shall make every effort to reach an agreement on matters of substance by consensus. If efforts to reach a consensus have been exhausted and no agreement is reached, the decision shall, as a last resort be taken by a two third majority vote.

COP16 chair and Mexico’s secretary for foreign affairs, Patricia Espinosa in response referred PNG’s concern to further consultation before she reports back to the LCA plenary.

Similar concerns of a’ new text’ introduced by the host government have emerged, in the event of an impasse and no agreement is reached.

In Copenhagen, the Danish chair introduced a new negotiating text to the surprise of the Parties.

A Pacific delegate who did not want to be named said whatever the outcome of Cancun will be, it should be seen as being Party-driven and not forced on them by a selected group of countries in collusion with the chair. This, he said was the failure of Cancun.

“COP15 wasn’t a political failure, but the failure of the UNFCCC process, said PNG’s Kevin Conrad.

As negotiators get down to the nuts and bolts of the negotiating text, the city of Cancun is on security lock down.

Mexican police and troops, supported by navy patrol boats have cordoned off areas around the Moon Palace hotel, a beachfront complex where the 12 day talks are being held.

The Cancun talks, often referred to as the Conference of the Parties 16th Session (COP16) are seen in many quarters as the last chance for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to restore faith in a process that has divided developed and developing countries.

It comes a year after the failure of the Copenhagen talks where leaders were supposed to deliver a post-2012 pact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and deliver billions in aid to poor countries.

Instead, it gave birth to a face-saving compromise, the Copenhagen Accord, which was crafted by more than 20 world leaders in the final hour of the 2009 summit.

In the UNFCCC, meanwhile, negotiations have switched from a big vision to securing visible progress in small, practical steps.

"Perhaps the most important thing we learnt from Copenhagen is that there is no miraculous agreement which is going to resolve the problem of climate change," said Figueres.

"Quite simply, it (the one-off agreement) does not exist."

Campaign groups say Cancun must deliver given the visible record year of extreme weather.

“Negotiators should begin UN climate change talks with far more urgency and resolve following a year of weather related disasters, record temperatures, flooding and rising sea levels, said Oxfam.

In the first nine months of 2010, more than 20,000 people have died due to weather related disasters, more than twice recorded for 2009, according to a report released by Oxfam today.

“This year has seen massive suffering and loss due to extreme weather disaster. This is likely to get worse as climate change tightens its grip. The human impacts of climate change in 2010 send a powerful reminder why progress in Cancun is more urgent than ever, said Tim Gore, author of the Oxfam report, titled “More than ever – climate talks that work for those that need them most.”

Even if many politicians seem to have tiptoed away from climate change as an issue, the public should not, urged the TckTckTck Campaign.

"There is a huge global movement of people demanding a low-carbon future and sending a clear signal that politicians have a mandate to take the bold steps needed to tackle climate change," said Paul Horsman, head of the TckTckTck Campaign.

Pacific calls for greater commitment from global community

UNEP Report finds Copenhagen Accord pledges will not reach targets of 2 degrees or less.

29 November, Cancun - Pledges to cut emissions under the Copenhagen Accord do not add up. Formed after the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Convention, in Copenhagen, Denmark last year, the Copenhagen Accord declared that deep cuts in global emissions are required to stop the increase in global temperature to below two degrees Celsius. It also called for an assessment that would consider strengthening the long-term goal including “temperature rises of 1.5 degrees.”

“The Emissions Gap Report”, a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) finds the pledges made do not reduce emissions enough to limit global warming to below two degrees Celcius as declared.

“If you add up all of what the countries have put on the table in terms of the pledges you get to emissions in 2020 that are far above the level needed to get down to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celcius,” said Dr Bill Hare of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the Lead Authors of the report.

“I think one of the problems with the Copenhagen Accord process was that the goal was written down and the pledges came later and there hasn’t been a process that has said – ‘Great you have made some pledges but they don’t add up to enough.”

Dr Bill Hare with Leon Charles of Grenada, Chair of AOSIS

Studies show that emission levels of approximately 44 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 would be consistent with a “likely” chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celcius. The pledges made under the Copenhagen Accord leave a gap of nine gigatonnes of carbon dioxide to reach this goal, however if the world continued in a “business as usual’ fashion the gap would be 12 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

The Emissions Gap Report also shows that it is still technically and economically feasible now to achieve 40 billion tonnes or lower in 2020, according to Dr Hare - “so that it won’t break the bank and will actually have a lot of benefits for countries, so while reports show on the one hand that the pledges are not enough, we still have time to close this gap with enough political will”.

As of mid-November this year 140 countries have associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord. Of these 85 countries have pledged to reduce their emissions or constrain their growth up to 2020. At the Cancun climate change talks, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are standing strong, calling for urgency to act now with deeper emission cuts than those pledged in the Copenhagen Accord, before it is too late.

“The window of opportunity to try and turn things around has been specified, we need to peak our emission rate, if we don’t we will miss the targets of creating a safer cleaner environment and that window will close,” said Ambassador Colin Beck, the Solomon Islands Ambassador to the United Nations. He believes this report states what the Pacific countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been saying for years.
Ambassador Beck being interviewed by international media in Cancun
The Emissions Gap Report emphasises that tackling climate change is still manageable, if leadership is shown. It is political will and leadership that is called upon to help make decisions that limit global warming and ultimately ensure the survival of the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). These populations are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, yet have done very little to contribute to the global problem.

“Each country has to step up to the plate so to speak and make its commitment,” states Dr Hare, “and if countries politically are not prepared to do that then we certainly won’t get enough action that will reduce global emissions fast enough to prevent the dire threats that face SIDS and others so it really comes down to politics.”

Cancun Must Set Stage for Planet-Saving Agreement

Vulnerable Pacific Islands raise expectations for climate change negotiations

29 November 2010, Cancun – A group of Pacific small island developing states (Pacific SIDS), among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, challenged other nations to raise their expectations for the negotiations that began in Cancun today.

Andrew Yatilman, Head of delegation for the Federated States of Micronesia, spoke on behalf of the Pacific SIDS. “While the politics of climate change may have shifted in the year since the world last met in Copenhagen, the dangers of life in a warming world are no less real. We must raise, not lower our expectations for Cancun.”

Yatilman delivered his statement on day one of the negotiations, where the Pacific SIDS are insisting on progress in a number of key areas that would set the stage for a planet-saving agreement to be signed in South Africa next year.

“Make no mistake, what happens in Cancun matters. That is why many of our Heads of State, Heads of Government, and ministers are returning this year to COP16 – to finish what we set out to do in Copenhagen and preserve a future for our people and our countries,” said Yatilman.

“First, the Pacific SIDS, as members of AOSIS, have consistently called for limiting the rise in average global temperature to well below 1.5 degrees to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and provide a reasonable opportunity for the survival of all our island nations.”

“A recently released UNEP report confirmed that there remains a wide gap between the emissions reduction pledges on the table and what is needed to achieve this goal. These pledges would likely take the world beyond 3 degrees – a reality that would leave many of our islands, and indeed entire island nations, uninhabitable. We must establish a process here in Cancun to reach agreement on targets, using the survival of small island nations as a minimum benchmark.

“Second, the agreements reached in Cancun must be a stepping stone towards a legally binding agreement that is needed to lock in the emissions cuts and other measures needed to protect the future of our islands. The stakes are too high for all players to rely on voluntary arrangements.”

“Third, our region faces enormous hurdles implementing adaptation programmes, and urgently needs the support of the international community in the areas of finance, capacity building, and technology transfer. It is essential that we establish a new global climate change fund that provides streamlined access that takes into account the special circumstances of SIDS and LDCs, so that our people can see concrete results in their communities.”

Speaking in relation to the Kyoto Protocol, Ambassador Donald Kalpokas, Permanent Representative of Vanuatu to the United Nations emphasised the following:

“We must reach a conclusion to the Kyoto Protocol negotiations to avoid a gap between the first and second commitment periods. The Kyoto Protocol is the lynchpin of the international legal regime for responding to the climate crisis and a gap in commitment period would seriously undermine our ability to respond effectively.”

Pacific negotiators met prior to the COP to discuss priority issues for their islands and coordinate their negotiating strategy.

Heads of state and government from the Pacific island nations of Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu will be attending the Cancun meeting during the second week of negotiations to provide the high level political guidance needed to ensure a robust outcome.

For more information or for comment, please contact Michael Crocker in Cancun at 9982243678 or by email press@pacificsids.org

Full statements as per below - please click on the images to read: