Thursday 24 November 2011

Pacific at International climate conference

Pacific delegates in a working group
Durban, South Africa, 23 November 2011 - Pacific survival is what the region is negotiating for during the Climate conference in Durban over the next three weeks.  The 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change is hosted in South Africa.

Preparations for a strong Pacific voice included a one day Pacific strategy meeting coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Durban.  This is followed by a two day preparatory meeting with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) which the Pacific is part of, to form a stronger negotiating block during the discussions with over 190 parties.

“These negotiations are crucial for the survival of the Pacific region,” said Espen Ronneberg, SPREP’s climate change adviser.
SPREP's Diane Mcfadzien and Espen Ronneberg
“Many pacific communities feel the impact of climate change now and we can’t sit by and let this happen to us, by being here and arguing our case we take every step we can for Pacific survival.  Our one day meeting was to help strengthen our united Pacific ‘asks’ and strategically plan our way forward for the next three weeks.” 

For the Pacific, climate change has impacted upon the lives of many people.  In October this year Tuvalu and Tokelau declared a state of emergency due to drought conditions with the Cook Islands and Samoa experiencing several water shortages.  In the Solomon Islands and Federated States of Micronesia, traditional food crops are now difficult to grow because of salt water inundation.

L - R: Delegates from Palau and Marshall Islands
Climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions; AOSIS is asking for countries to commit to deeper emission cuts.  Science shows the Pacific region currently contributes to less than 0.03% of the World’s total greenhouse gases however we are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. 

“This is just one of the issues that the Pacific is negotiating at the Conference of the Parties we have many other negotiating agenda issues to follow over the next three weeks.”

Quick information on the Gigatonne gap
Total annual emissions must be reduced to no more than 44 gigatonnes by 2020 and continue to fall thereafter to avoid a temperature increase of over 2.0 degrees Celsius.   An even steeper decline is needed to keep warming well below 1.5 degrees to avoid devastating impacts.

Last year emissions pushed 48 gigatonnes.

To learn more about the Gigatonne Gap, visit:
For more information on the UNFCCC COP 17 in Durban, please visit: