Sunday 5 December 2010

AOSIS proposal to discuss legal architecture of new climate change deal referred to contact group

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media, Cancun, Mexico

05 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN --- At an informal session of the stocktaking plenary of the Conference of the Parties, the proposal for a legal form to a new climate change agreement, was referred to contact group for more consultation.

The 43 members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) had asked for a contact group to discuss the legal architecture before any final agreement in Durban next year.

“Legal form is important as it provides certainty to the outside world – the governments, the markets, the private sector that we are trying to get involved in this process – all of them need legal certainty to effectively contribute to this process and to make the investments needed, said Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada on behalf of AOSIS.

During the informal stock-take session, the chair and President of COP16, Patricia Espinosa ruled that more consultation was needed before any decision was taken.

She appointed Malta’s climate change ambassador, Michael Zammit Cutajar to convene more consultation with Parties in the contact group and report back to the Conference of the Parties next week.

But Grenada on behalf of AOSIS expressed the group’s dissatisfaction for an informal meeting when the original proposal was for the legal form to be discussed in a contact group.

The COP chair later changed her ruling to a contact group after the AOSIS intervention.

Informal sessions are open to Parties only whereas the contact group allows for more participants, including observers.

Compromise order of negotiations, as Parties debate a proposed negotiating text

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media, Cancun, Mexico

05 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN ---- There appears to be consensus amongst negotiators here in Cancun that the text introduced by the chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cop-operative Action (AWG-LCA), Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe that provides additional input into the outcome.

The informal session of the AWG-LCA was convened Saturday afternoon to gauge Parties views on the text, which was originally introduced as a conference room paper.

“There is a general feeling of a high degree of transparency from the chair and Parties appear to be happy. This is probably the spirit of compromise that Parties are moving towards, said Ambassador Luiz Figueiredo.

Most of the Parties in their intervention praised the chair for the transparent manner in which she has engaged with Parties in trying to reach an outcome that is acceptable.

“It’s now time to negotiate amongst Parties and not with the chair or co-facilitators, said a representative of Bolivia.

Tuvalu, the only Pacific Island Country to speak on the debate said after five days, Parties should ‘take the text and start negotiations.’

“The text represents a narrowing of perspective despite differences in opinions, said Ian Fry.

He acknowledged that some of the pushed for by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are not reflected in the draft text, but that can be discussed in the negotiations.

AOSIS, like other countries is still considering the text that was received 30 minutes before the meeting, has not formulated its position on the draft text but indications are from interventions from Tuvalu, Grenada and St Lucia that at least three issues are missing from the text that need to be negotiated next week. These include the shared vision of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees and limiting the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, the weakening of the adaptation language and a clear commitment on a legally binding agreement.

Papua New Guinea openly supported the proposed text as it outlines a new mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD)

Introducing her text, Ms Mukahanana-Sangarwe said her draft was built on the outcome of Tianjin and from her consultations with the Parties.

“The paper hopes to identify further opportunities of compromise, where Parties can reach understanding, said the President of the COP, Patricia Espinosa.

She assured negotiators that under her presidency she will ensure that there will be “no parallel negotiations, no selective segmentation of issues and no lack of transparency.”

The draft text will be presented to the Ministers when they begin formal negotiations on Tuesday.

Climate change: The power of a label

Tuvalu delegation meeting after AOSIS

Cancun, Mexico - It’s the ‘label’ that is throwing a spanner in one of the works at the UN climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. When it comes to climate change talks, the Pacific islands come under the label – “Small Island Developing States” (SIDS). It is a recognised grouping at the UN climate change conference alike the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) and countries in Africa prone to certain climate change impacts. These are the recognised terms under the Bali Action Plan formed at the 13th Conference of the Parties in Bali. That meeting unanimously agreed to give priority to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, but to give special attention to the LDC’s and SIDS.

During the first week of the two-week climate change negotiations in Cancun, the discussions are also revolving around the introduction of new name groupings which are giving way to “unnecessary complications” in an already complicated and intense process.

“Some countries feel that unless their region or their particular concern - the impact that they are most concerned about is mentioned explicitly, then they feel that they are being excluded,” said Espen Ronneberg the Climate Change Adviser for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“Even though we are quite strong on the position that all developing countries that are vulnerable to climate change shall be assisted. The Bali Action Plan and the language is very clear on this.”

The consistent push for new ‘labels’ is a common link throughout many different threads of negotiations now underway in Cancun.

At the Bali Conference of the Parties in 2007, there was an amendment to the text of countries that qualify to be recognised as a grouping to include the countries in Africa that are particularly to climate extremes. However this amendment was supported by science and deemed justifiable during those negotiations.

With other groups forcing their own ‘labels’ upon the text, it gives way to new concerns and arguments.

“I don’t think it will be feasible to have an agreement with a long list and the alternative is a limited text that has been proposed which only refers to countries that are vulnerable to climate change without any sorts of conditions or particular parts being highlighted,” explained Ronneberg.

“This will probably mean that we get pushed aside as unless there is a particular attention being given to small islands, we never seem to get much from the financing process.”


Cherelle Jackson of Samoa writing for Eearth Negotiations Bulletin
Pacific writing in Earth Negotiations Bulletin

It’s another Climate Change meeting for Cherelle Jackson of Samoa.  Cherelle has covered a number of UN Climate Change meetings over the last few years including COP 15 in Copenhagen.  This year she has been asked to write for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) which is part of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.  The Bulletin has writers from all over the world and Cherelle says she is the first Pacific writer to write for ENB.

“I’m here to provide some background on the Pacific to them, while still reporting on international issues,” says Cherelle.  “They did not have anyone from the Pacific so the issues of SIDS and AOSIS were not being provided.”

“I’m finding the events this year - especially in regards from the NGOs and the private sector and IGOs - more on the long term perspectives whereas last year at COP 15 people were demanding immediate action.

“It was more aggressive in a sense last year – this year they are focusing more on remedial actions, long term mitigation and so forth.”

Cancun negotiations drifting apart says Nauru

Ambassador Marlene Moses, Nauru's Ambassador to the United Nations

By Stanley Simpson, Climate Pasifika Media Team

04 December Cancun Mexico - Negotiations for a new global climate change agreement is drifting apart in Cancun, says Nauru’s ambassador to the UN Marlene Moses, but Pacific nations are not going to give up the fight.

Ambassador Moses says the Pacific voice through AOSIS is being heard, but it is not being listened to.

“Being heard is one thing, being listened to is another. I don’t believe that we are being listened to here in Cancun. Even though we are active in raising our issues, I believe its just falling on deaf ears.”

“Our issues are drifting apart. “

Ambassador Moses says the last thing the Pacific wants is a collapse of the negotiations but she fears some past bad practices are going to occur again.

“What we don’t want to see is another non-inclusive, non-transparent and non-binding agreement.”

Like other island nations Nauru is earnestly seeking concrete decisions on climate change adaptation – particularly with regards to funding.

“Adaptation is critical for Pacific island countries, but if the provision for resources and finances are not there then it compounds the urgency of our situation,” she says.

“It is important that any text on adaptation feature the particularly vulnerable positions of small island developing states.”

“It must always be featured, it must always be addressed, and it must be prominent in any document.”

When asked what Nauru and other island nations should do if the Cancun negotiations fall apart – Ambassador Moses was emotional as she declared the need to fight on.

“We are fighting for our survival. This is an ongoing fight, and I believe that every Pacific nation that is represented here has to fight tooth and nail for the future of their country and their people.”

“So it does not stop when Cancun is over. That’s like saying that’s the end of the Pacific.  It’s not going to be Hasta La Vista baby for us.”

First consensus reached at the climate change talk in Cancun

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico

04 December 2010 Cancun --- The first draft conclusion to reach unanimous consensus at the Cancun climate change talks in Cancun was celebrated Saturday by Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

The two countries were able to convince the chair of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) to reach a conclusion on Article 6 of the UN climate change convention, which was supported by over150 countries who are parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Article 6 promotes education, training and public awareness as the main vehicle to foster action on climate change.

Many governments and intergovernmental organizations are already working in partnership with civil society to fulfil the commitments in Article 6.  However scale of challenges posed by climate change requires an engagement on outreach activities of a greater magnitude.

The draft decision, which will go before the Conference of the Parties (COP) recognises the participation of women, youth, indigenous peoples and civil society groups at all national, regional and international meetings that are sanctioned by the UNFCCC in relation to climate change.

It also supports formal and non formal education in schools and institutions on climate change and the development of educational and public awareness materials.

The draft decision also urged the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to increase access to funding for Article 6 related activities.

GEF is the financial mechanism of the UN climate change convention.

Youth have a voice at the climate change negotiations
Speaking at a media briefing to announce the first consensus SBI draft decision, a youth representative congratulated Guatemala and the Dominican Republic for showing leadership.

“Both countries need a golden star for their effort – for delivering a consensus decision in 90 minutes. We, the youth of the world hope to see the spirit of progress and compromise in other parts of the negotiations here in Cancun, said the youth representative.

Climate smart agriculture and Pacific views

Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti, Programme Manager, Pacific Futures, SPREP

"Needless to stress that we need further assistance and support to help address the many challenges of climate change and food security in a changing climate.  This is a key adaptation strategy not only at the national level but to the last man or woman at the community level struggling to put food on the table for his or her family." - Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti, Programme Manager, Pacific Futures, SPREP

Cancun, Mexico - Food security struggles of the Pacific islands caused by climate change, and how we are altering our way of life to meet them was showcased during the Cancun Climate Change Talks.

“Is climate-smart agriculture possible?” was the heading of the event organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Pacific examples of work were presented by Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, Programme Manager for Pacific Futures of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). One of the main features of the popular event was the work done under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PACC) which focuses on three priority areas - food security, coastal processes and water.

"Although each participating Pacific island country focuses on activities in any one of the national priority areas, the three are inter-connected when it comes to food security in the context of climate change impacts. For example prolonged drought periods, changing rainfall periods or salt water intrusion require climate-smart methods of cultivation, water conservation and new crops that are more resistant to changing climate variables” said Dr Pelesikoti.

“Our Pacific countries have selected their priority areas and are now working on practical ‘on the ground’ projects to adapt”.

PACC is the first Pacific region project which has accessed the special climate change fund by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is a pilot project that will end in 2012 and covers 13 Pacific island countries and implemented through SPREP.

Dr Pelesikoti acknowledges that while these are significantly important projects for the Pacific, long term continual of such programmes is very important to ensure that Pacific islands countries resilient are strengthened and lessons learned from these pilot projects are replicated in other sectors in the country.

“Projected ocean acidification and changing pattern of ocean circulation and warming will adversely affect marine food sources and livelihoods for all the people of the Pacific when inshore and offshore key subsistence and commercial species are impacted by climate change. Needless to stress that we need further assistance and support to help address the many challenges of climate change and food security in a changing climate.  This is a key adaptation strategy not only at the national level but to the last man or woman at the community level struggling to put food on the table for his or her family”

For more information on the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project please visit:

Tuvalu urges capacity building from Adaptation Fund Board

Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu (Right)

By Stanley Simpson Climate Pasifika Media Team

Cancun, Mexico - Tuvalu’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Enele Sopoaga has urged the climate change Adaptation Fund Board to provide greater capacity building for islands that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“The issue of capacity is real and should be addressed seriously,” Sopoaga told Board chairman Farouk Khan.

“I urge the Board to conduct workshops training and awareness development at regional and national level to enable these countries to draft and come up with proposals that can be submitted for consideration. “

The Adaptation Fund Board approves funding to countries that meet the criteria for climate change adaptation projects.

However Sopoaga pointed out that Small Island States were struggling to fulfill the eligibility criteria to access funds.

“In order for entities to be accredited as National Implementing Agencies they have to prove capacity for sound financial management and sound reporting practices among others – many of our small island countries don’t have that capacity because of our limited human capacity, and also our limited infrastructure,” said Sopoaga.

He urged the board to bear in mind Article 12.8 of the Kyoto Protocol which calls for support for developing countries that are particularly vulnerable.

In response chairman Farouk Khan noted that has heard the issue for capacity building for some time now.

“We are very conscious of reducing the number of standards that are applicable in this case without undermining the integrity and fiduciary standards – but yes the capacity question is there,” Khan said.

“I have addressed that question to our bilateral donors and Multilateral Implementing Agencies encouraging them to help facilitate the developing countries – particularly the small island countries to help establish the National Implementing Entities.”

“The Board is conscious of the need for capacity. We are throwing our weight behind every other initiative that can boost that capacity in the developing countries.”

However he insisted the requirements they have listed are not as vigorous or not as extensive as those one would find in any other board.

“It is also important that countries work towards overcoming these barriers themselves. It is time for countries to take charge of that situation – ask your bilateral partners to help assist in implementing or promoting your National Implementing Agencies. “

Deputy PM Sopoaga says capacity building is needed not only drafting proposals but also for implementing them.

“When you are talking about international standards, fiduciary standards of the World Bank, these are terminology and standards that are quite foreign to countries like Tuvalu with small administrations. We really need assistance in understanding and satisfying these standards.”

“We also need capacity building in actually implementing the projects in accordance with the criteria of the Board.”

He says small island vulnerable states need access to funds for adaptation to build seawalls, water storage and similar projects but if these criteria stand in the way, they need to be addressed.

He further urged a wider scope in projects eligible for the Adaptation Fund.

“They need to also improve the capacity of the community to food security, even education to help our children cope with the impact of climate change – that needs to be part of the adaptation actions as well.”

“Adaptation is also about human development.”