Thursday 8 December 2011

Press Statement: Tokelau at UNFCCC COP 17

Ulu o Tokelau, Hon. Foua Toloa addresses the room

Durban, South Africa, 7 December, 2011 - Tokelau is present at the COP 17 as part of NZ’s delegation. We associate ourselves with others who have called for clear outcomes in Durban to have a legally binding agreement of emission pledges from all countries. Additionally, COP17 should resolve to immediately operationalise adequate, sustainable and timely resources to urgently address national needs to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

We are here to convey the message that nowhere in all of these meetings, has Tokelau been able to have a voice in the policy development for adaptation and mitigation for climate change. We are part of that group of vulnerable nations most affected by climate change and yet do not have a presence within the formal discussions at the COP sessions and in the case of Tokelau, we are ineligible for Global Environment Facility funding.

However, Tokelau is acting responsibly and doing her part in mitigating for the impact of climate change. Despite our vulnerabilities, we are taking action.

By September 2012, Tokelau will be the first nation to be 100 per cent renewable energy (solar and coconut oil) efficient thereby fulfilling its global obligation. Tokelau will be number 1 in per-person reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the Pacific and the world.

The establishment of this renewable energy system will cost Tokelau $8.5 million of which $7m has been advanced against our future core budget by NZ and we are seeking funds to complete this portion of the project. Tokelau hopes it will be eligible to apply under the new funding mechanism, the Green Climate Fund currently being designed at COP17.

Tokelau is challenging the world in Durban to match or better the renewable energy targets we have set and will achieve by September 2012.

We cannot sit by 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 about it today.

As stated by the Ulu o Tokelau, Hon. Foua Toloa at COP 17, Durban, South Africa. For any other clarifications contact Jovilisi Suveinakama, +6857771820

Scenes from AOSIS

Durban, South Africa, 7 December - The Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) gathered in unity yet again last night to commemorate the work of Grenada and all members.  Grenada became Chair of AOSIS in 2007, next year the Chair of AOSIS will be held by Nauru.  Below are some images from the night.
Pasha Carruthers of the Cook Islands presenting Dr Spencer Thomas with a gift

Clare Aniterea of Kiribati performing

Ms. Sandra Tisam of the Cook Islands performing

Leon Charles with friends

L - R Coral Pasisi, Sandra Tisam, Ana Tiraa, Ewan Cameron

Enjoying the night

Dancing...Cook Islands style
Time to dine
Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada greeting guests

Grenada commemorates four years as Chair of AOSIS

Durban, South Africa, 7 December -

“Let’s fight the fight.  For the next two days let us not break and let’s hold together with one voice.  We are the only one group that remains together united.  In AOISIS if you touch one of us, you touch us all.” – Hon. Karl Hood, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Export Development and the Environment, Grenada.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) gathered in unity yet again last night to commemorate the work of Grenada and all members.  Grenada became Chair of AOSIS in 2007, next year the Chair of AOSIS will be held by Nauru.

Team from Grenada

L - R Hon. Karl Hood, Grenada and H.E Sprent Dabwibo

Hon. Karl Hood, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Export Development and the Environment, Grenada

“If this process does not work we are willing to take it to the international court of justice.”

“Even though we leaving the Chair you still have our support, we will still be speaking but not from the Chair, we will still give our support to Nauru.”
“Thank you for your support over the years since we were the Chair of ASOIS.”

President of Nauru H.E Sprent Dabwibo

L - R Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada presented with a gift from Col. Samuela Saumatua, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment of Fiji

President of Nauru, H.E Sprent Dabwido

“This is my first COP but I am beginning to understand the enormous reason that Grenada has carried for the past several years. I would also like to recognize the efforts of Leon Charles who has maintained his steady hand on the rudder amid the chaos, Mr. Charles you have brought a depth of knowledge and understanding of the process to our group that has often left the rest of us in awe."

Nor can I leave out the unsung heroes of AOSIS team who have cemented this group together.”

“We will look to you Mr. Hood and your delegation to remain resolute in the face of countries trying to derail this process and we will be there in support of you in the final hours so we can make Durban a successful finish to a successful Chair.”

 Ms. Clare Aniterea of Kiribati representing the Pacific with a performance

Presentation of gift to Mr. Leon Charles

Mr. Leon Charles, Chief Negotiator of AOSIS

Mr. Leon Charles of Grenada, Chief Negotiator for AOSIS

"I have three thoughts to leave you with:

“Vision; when we started in 2007 we worked out that AOSIS has 120 people which put us on part with the bigger delegations and larger countries. We suggested the vision of one entity to focus on the items to move forward as one strong powerful group to cover every issue in an organized fashion.”

“Courage to change to do things differently when necessary; I encourage the group to be willing to look at new ideas and new ways of doing things. When circumstances change we must change to be effective.”

“Cooperation and teamwork; we can’t do this on our own, with 20 or 30 items you need a structure where information flows to the top.”

“It was a pleasure to serve you and we look forward to seeing AOSIS grow from strength to strength.”

Mr David Sheppard, Director-General, the Secreteriat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

David Sheppard, Director- General of SPREP

“A wise man once told me to go quickly you go alone, to go far, you go together.”

"Congratulations Nauru on your position of Chair, SPREP and fellow Pacific regional organisations are here to offer you support and assistance.”

More photos will be posted on the blog

Niue urges world leaders to leave legacy of action at climate conference

Premier of Niue (Left) and his delegation at UNFCCC COP 17

Durban, South Africa, 7 December -

“I find it appalling, really appalling that we can’t make a political decision on these matters, it’s a dreadful lack of understanding of our legacy as world leaders at this moment, particularly the large countries.”- Hon. Toke Talagi, Premiere of Niue

From the Rock of Polynesia to the Cradle of Humanity, the Premier of Niue has traveled far to present a firm message at the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa.
Niue is a large upraised coral atoll in the Pacific that is home to less than 1,500 residents in 14 different village communities. For the people of Niue, like many other communities in Small Islands Developing States, the impacts of climate change are real and they are being felt now.
In 2004, Niue was struck by category 5 Cyclone Heta that caused major damage to infrastructure and agriculture estimated at NZD 37.7 million, which is close to three times the value of Niue’s GDP, highlighting Niue’s economic vulnerability to climate change.
“The politics of climate change is broken into three parts,” said the Premier of Niue, Hon. Toke Talagi.
“One is to do with the risk assessment of the information being given to us from scientists and whether it is perceived as low, medium or high. The second is in relation to risk assessment in terms of funding and the third is to do with the legacy of us Leaders at the moment with our respect to make decisions on climate change, or not.”
The Premier feels that some of the developed countries view the risk assessment as medium allowing for more time to continue the negotiations, whereas others view the risk assessment as high. It is this inability to agree that delays an outcome, continuing to disagree while the climate change problem grows worse and “nothing is done.”

The Alliance of Small Islands States has called for a Durban mandate to negotiate a new protocol under the climate convention by 2012 with ambitious mitigation goals consistent with holding warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius.
The new Protocol must include ambitious quantitative, national economy wide, legally binding targets for the developed countries not presently Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. It also means increasing the level of mitigation ambition by developing countries according to their different levels of capability and responsibility.
“We are the current cabinet of World Leaders, the legacy that we are leaving behind at this moment is the inability to make decisions that will enable us to respond to climate change and take collective action. We are not doing that therefore our legacy is unfortunately that we did nothing.”
To view all speeches made by Pacific Leaders and Ministers during the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to the Framework on Climate Change please visit:

"Pacific Climate Futures" launched in Durban

Durban, South Africa, 6 December - The UN Climate Change Conference in South Africa was the backdrop for the launch of two new landmark resources that have a crucial role for the Pacific region.

The report Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research as well as the web-based projections tool, Pacific Climate Futures were the focus of a side event featuring the Hon. Greg Combet AM MP, the Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency as well as the Vice Minister for Forestry and Climate Change from Papua New Guinea, Hon. Ronald Asik.
It was a full house for the special event that was a partnership between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Pacific Climate Change Science Program.
Arrival of Minister of Forestry and Climate Change from Papua New Guinea

“As a minister, I am aware how important it is that scientific research is relevant to policy and provides useful information to assist decision-making,” presented Hon. Greg Combat during his opening statement.

“I am confident that this new research and accompanying information tools will be invaluable resources for climate scientists, communities and decision-makers in the Pacific to inform vulnerability analysis and priority setting and build resilience to future climate change.”

The Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency pesents keynote speech

The newly launched reports can be found at

“The importance of having a high credibility of science in our reports is clear, this is prominent in these newly launched materials.” said the Director-General of SPREP, Mr. David Sheppard.

“The role of partnerships and cooperation is significant to help us provide such important materials to help guide our climate change work in the region. We are appreciative of our partnerships that helped bring together and produce such extensive scientific reports.”

Full house at the side event
Australia has committed $328 million over five years to the Australian International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative with a key focus on least developed countries and Small Island Developing States.

Also featured during the side event were Scott Power, the Senior Principal Research Scientist and Research Manager of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology as well as several Pacific island experts who have used the reports to help guide their work; Mr. Salesa Kaniaha the Manager of Climate Services of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazard Department and Ms Rossylynn Pulehetoa-Mitiepo, Coordinator of the Niue Climate Change Project, Department of Meteorology and Climate Change.

We’ll be bringing you more news on their presentations over the coming week.
There are two volumes to the Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research. Volume 1 is a Regional Overview which provides an analysis of large-scale climate phenomena such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, seasonal variability and past climate trends and further develops regional climate change projections.