Wednesday 30 November 2011

Finding strength in numbers - Pacific stands firm with AOSIS

AOSIS meeting

Durban, South Africa, 30 November 2011 - Pacific delegations present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP17, currently underway in Durban are standing firm with the Alliance of Small Island States on key positions under negotiation.

“We must be solid in what we do and continue to advocate that on climate change issues we should remain together,” urged the President of Kiribati from his island home at the forefront of the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.

Fourteen Pacific island countries are represented at COP17 under the banner of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). They are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Kyoto Protocol must live on

In collaboration with other island nation members of AOSIS from Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea, the Pacific joined the grouping in consolidating the call for strong decisions around the Kyoto Protocol.

“We must adopt a decision that establishes a 5-year second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, to run from 2013 to 2017, with a single, legally-binding, base year of 1990, as part of a two-track outcome,” said a statement from AOSIS.

“This two track outcome must include the adoption of a mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument under the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) with negotiations to be concluded by December 2012.

“This timeframe is needed to ensure legally-binding commitments and actions from all major emitters commencing on January 1, 2013.”

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the five-year period 2008-2012.

“Durban must deliver an ambitious outcome with three essential elements,” said the AOSIS statement, including “certainty that there will be a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with an enhanced set of rules to strengthen its environmental integrity.

“We must have a “Durban Mandate” to capture the work of the AWG-LCA in the form of a new, legally binding protocol next year at COP18.”

AOSIS called on the new instrument to complement the Kyoto Protocol with binding mitigation commitments for non-Kyoto Parties and mitigation actions for developing countries, as well as address all other elements of the Bali Action Plan.

Tokelau targets 100% renewable energy

Delegation from Tokelau with Faipule Foua Toloa (middle)
Durban, South Africa, 30 November - By September next year, the 1,500 residents on the island nation of Tokelau will be 100% renewable energy efficient. That’s the strong message the Faipule Foua Toloa, the Ulu or titular heard of Tokelau is sharing far and wide in Durban South Africa. 

A delegation of three from Tokelau are at the UN Climate Conference, attending the different events and meetings that take place alongside the climate negotiations which has brought together over 20,000 delegates.

“People are amazed by our strong message that we are sharing with the world,” said Toloa.

“Although we are the smallest of the small we have a great vision with leaders in our community such as our elders and our fono are committed to this. It is a very expensive project but we are doing it.” 

The total project will cost Tokelau 8.5 million dollars that will result in a 93% photovoltaic system with coconut oil hybrid as a reserve. Tokelau is borrowing funds for this project, but is still seeking support to help the island nation reach their target. 

“When we looked at the costs we learnt that we spend so much money to buy fossil fuel that we’ll be recovering these costs in the next five years and we can use those funds in other development areas.” 

The population of Tokelau resides on three atolls which make up the nation that is currently under New Zealand administration. The delegation of three from Tokelau are attending the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework to the Convention on Climate Change under the New Zealand badge.

Tokelau declared a state of emergency in October this year after six months without substantial rain. It lies in the Pacific typhoon belt and it is understood that the highest point for the island nation is 5 meters. In the face of this climate change adversity, Tokelau is persevering to make a difference.

“We are challenging the world with our renewable energy targets. We cannot sit and pity ourselves that we are amongst one of the first countries to go under water – the smallest and the lowest. We can make a difference and begin to do something.”

The Green Climate Fund: Pacific urges action – no renegotiation

Samoa's Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia at the Pacific strategy meeting for UNFCCC COP 17

Durban, South Africa, Tuesday 29th November 2011 - Pacific delegations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently underway in Durban, South Africa, are pushing for agreement on the Green Climate Fund.  

It is anticipated that the Green Climate Fund will channel a significant portion of the US$100 billion a year promised by developed countries by 2020 to help developing countries effectively responding to Climate Change. 

"We have spent quite some time trying to design the new Green Climate Fund,” said Samoa’s ambassador to the United Nations, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia. Ambassador Feturi is also the Pacific SIDS representative on the Transitional Committee of the Green Climate Fund, tasked with developing the modalities of the fund for consideration at the Climate Change Conference this week.

"It’s important that in Durban we reach agreement to progress towards operationalising the Fund,” stressed Ambassador Feturi.

But keen observers of the Climate Change Conference say that powerful developed countries may utilize the Fund as a bargaining chip to seek gains in other areas of negotiation. 

The United States, for instance, announced last week it did not support the Green Climate Fund proposal from the Transitional Committee, seeking more clarity on private sector involvement in the Fund. Saudi Arabia has also voiced its opposition to the proposed Fund, calling for response measures to be included in the scope and objectives of the fund. Response measures as currently argued by Saudi Arabia include compensation for oil-producing countries for revenue lost due to climate change actions. 

“It is important for us to capture some of the gains that are already in the report to try and resist any renegotiation,” said Ambassador Feturi, maintaining that for the Pacific, accessing the fund is critical. 

“We acknowledge that for us in the Pacific, accessing those funds will be a challenge due to our island countries’ limited resources to deal with these procedures,” said the Ambassador. “That is why we (the Transitional Committee) purposely included reference to utilising regional organisation resources for those who have capacity constraints. Everybody should have access to the Fund, whether through national means or regional organisations.”

Ambassador Feturi added that the report of the Transitional Committee looks at simplifying some of the procedures to access the Green Climate Fund. It also seeks to strengthen the ability of countries to access the Fund, including through providing support for planning and for project proposal development.

I think it is important for submissions to the Fund to be aligned with countries’ own national development plans – it’s the countries themselves who need to determine that, and they need to develop their skills to do this effectively.

If the Transitional Committee report on operationalising the Green Climate Fund is approved in Durban, its Board will be setup as soon as possible. The Board will review expressions of interests and make recommendations on the selection of the host country for the Fund for endorsement at next year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Qatar.

“It will be important for the Pacific to be represented on the Board, for we, as a climate change vulnerable region, obviously have a vested interest in this important process,” said Ambassador Feturi.

The Climate Change Conference, UNFCCC COP 17, opened on 28 November and will close 9 December, for more information on this please visit: