Saturday 3 December 2011

A Rally for Our Survival

(Left) Ambassador Marlene Moses of Nauru at the Survival Rally
Durban, South Africa, 2 December - Ambassadors from small island nations joined a large crowd at the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP17) in Durban South Africa to push back on new proposals that would delay a new climate treaty until 2020.

Activitsts at the rally

The Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) is working hard to fulfil the moral and ethical obligation to protect their people and will reject any outcome in Durban that cannot ultimately safeguard the livelihoods and guarantee the survival of island nations.

Activitsts at the rally
If Durban puts off a legally binding agreement and closes the door on raising mitigation ambition before 2020 many of the small island states will be literally and figuratively doomed.

Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada the current Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States and Ambassador Marlene Moses of Nauru, the incoming Chair of AOSIS united with supporters and other Ambassadors to call for immediate climate action.

Mr Casper Supa (Solomon Islands)
with the United Sates
media at the rally
“We represent the people of our country – our food security will not survive, our water security and our survivability,” said Ambassador Moses.

Ambassador Williams added, “We are all connected as islands and the same message applies to the whole city of Durban. If we go under – Durban goes under.”

Activists marched through the streets of Durban
before arriving at the rally

“I live on the beachfront and from what I see from my hotel window, when the storm surges come, like our islands they cover the low lying parts of Durban. Your conference in Durban cannot condemn us without condemning itself. So our message is for all the people of Durban during COP 17 are that we are all small islanders, so don’t save us save yourself - we are one in the same.” 

Activists at the rally

Kiribati welcomes Australian carbon tax law

President Anote Tong in center, chairing a panel at the UNFCCC in Cancun

Tarawa, Kiribati, 2 December 2011 - The President of Kiribati, H.E. Anote Tong, has welcomed Australia’s carbon tax initiative, recently passed by the Australian Senate.

The Clean Energy Legislative Package, made into law when passed by the Senate on 8 November 2011, sets out the way that Australia will introduce a carbon price to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution and move to a clean energy future. According to the Australian Government, the initiative will allow the country to begin reducing emissions, developing and fostering new technologies in renewable energy, encouraging energy efficiency and creating opportunities in the land sector to cut pollution.

A fixed carbon price of AUD$23 a tonne will apply from 1 July, 2012, moving to a flexible price after three years.

The carbon price is a tax on pollution and will be paid by Australia’s largest polluters.

“I’ve said to the Australians that we commend what they are doing with the carbon tax,” said President Tong, calling on other developed countries to follow suit.

The Australian carbon tax initiative is one of the few undertakings to legalise national actions towards international commitments of reducing carbon emissions. Similar schemes exist in Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Ireland.

Kiribati, a small island nation of low-lying atolls scattered over more than five million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean, is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of Climate Change.

Like other Climate Change-vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific, issues such as substantial coastal erosion, food security and lack of access to potable water haunt the day-to-day lives of the Kiribati people.

“The problem that we developing countries face, particularly small island developing countries, the SIDS, is we want to avoid bickering over what resources are coming forward because I think it’s got to be judged on the need – by the degree of vulnerability,” said President Tong.

“That has not been easy to get agreement on because everyone is vulnerable. I have no choice but to say we are very, very, very vulnerable.”

Key issues on Climate Change are currently being addressed in Durban, South Africa, at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol.

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

Future Climate Change Projects for the Pacific: Showcased at the Island Pavilion

Ms. Elina Bardram of the European Commission presenting at the Island Pavilion

Durban, South Africa, 2 December – Future climate change projects in the Small Island Developing States were presented at the Island Pavilion during the Climate Conference in Durban South Africa this week.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) illustrated plans of what is to come in the Climate Change Division.

“SPREP is taking a strategic direction on future projects to implement adaptation measures, improve understanding of climate change, and raise the knowledge, information, public awareness and education on climate change and its issues;” said Mr Taito Nakalevu, SPREP Project Manager in the Climate Change Division.

“There are also plans to help understand the root causes of vulnerabilities, and to know the preparedness, response and recovery, and early warning systems.”

These objectives link to the global and regional frameworks such as the 1992 Framework Climate Change Convention, the second edition of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change and the Pacific Meteorology Strategy of 2012 to 2015, amongst others.

SPREP has currently applied for regional implementing entity status, its application to the Adaptation Fund and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to help Pacific Island Countries that has yet to attain the National Implementing Entities.

“Financing for the programmes is vital for the Pacific Islands, although developed states may just be as vulnerable to climate change. The coping capacity for the island states is much lower than that of the bigger countries.”

The AusAID, USAID, the GIZ Support and the Commonwealth Secretariat are some of the donors that have injected funds into the Climate Change Division for future projects.

Also to present at the Future projects session was Dr Mark Bynoe of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Ms. Elina Bardram of the European Commission. Dr Bynoe shared the work that is being undertaken in the Caribbean as part of the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance initiative and Ms. Bardram presented on Adaptation financing.

Rio Convention Pavilion: web of life at the Climate COP

Panel of speakers during the Ecosystem based Adaptation side event
Durban, South Africa, 2 December - Settled at the heart of the exotic beats of African drums and artistic climate change displays at the Climate Conference in South Africa, is the Rio Convention Pavilion, the hub for a range of interesting side events that are linked to the three Rio Conventions.

The Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate change and Desertification derived directly from the 1992 Earth Summit. It is at the Rio Conventions Pavilion that an exchange of lessons learnt from practises and scientific findings realised from the implementation of the three Conventions takes place.

“It’s a great initiative that has provided the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with a platform to share experiences under the Rio Conventions with people from all corners of the globe at these Conferences of the Parties,” said Nanette Woonton, the Media and Public Relations Officer of SPREP.

The Rio Convention Pavilion was launched during the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, the Rio Conventions Pavilion convened at the margins of the CBD Conference of the Parties (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan for which materials from SPREP were exhibited.

At the UNFCCC COP 16 in Cancun Mexico the Pavilion was held in ‘virtual’ format for which SPREP staged a side event that displayed and shared climate change solutions in the Pacific region.

In 2011, SPREP is yet again working in partnership with the Rio Conventions Pavilion through attending and sharing Pacific perspectives during the 10th Conference of the Parities to the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP10) and again at the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 17).

The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project is being showcased at the Rio Convention Pavilion by SPREP and partners, which is held at the Climate Change and Response Expo hosted by the South Africa Department of Environment Affairs.

The Pavilion is a collaborative effort between the Secretariat of the three Rio Conventions and the Global Environment Facility, in addition to a growing list of other global and local partners.

For a full list of events happening at the Rio Convention Pavilion at the UNFCCC COP17 this year, please visit: