Friday 30 November 2012

Pacific Calling Partnership in Doha

Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV in Doha, Qatar

29 November 2012, Doha, Qatar - Our Pacific neighbors, Kiribati is lobbying for more support from the world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference in Doha in mitigating the impacts of climate change in its country...

The tiny atoll is only 2 to 3 meters above the sea level which exposes it to  greater risks of rising sea level.

Pacific Calling Partnership is calling for more collaboration from the developed countries in assisting Kiribati in its effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

 Maria Chi-fang, Pacific Calling Partnership

The rising sea level and impacts of climate change has already resulted in migration of people from the country. One of the other pressing issues faced by the people of Kiribati is the supply of fresh water.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Pacific Women in Climate Change - meet Anne Rasmussen, Samoa

This is the first in a series of human interest stories by SPREP’s Nanette Woonton on Pacific women showing leadership in the climate change field.

L - Ms. Anne Rasmussen, Samoa

November, 2012, Doha, Qatar - Samoa, the Treasure Islands, has a hidden gem in Ms. Anne Rasmussen of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.  She is occupying a seat at the head table at the UN Climate negotiations in Doha this week having been requested to be a co-chair based upon eight years of experience working for the Government of Samoa and four years in the UN climate negotiations.

More precisely, Anne will be working with her co-chair from Japan to chair agenda items 4a and c under the Subsidiary Body of Implementation, drawing upon her climate change experience at both the international and national level.

“I first attended the negotiations to support the Samoa delegation, it wasn’t until two years ago that I took that step towards a more active role in the negotiations with the National Communications.  I have also negotiated on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and when it comes to work in Samoa, a large focus for me has been the development of the Second National Communications and carrying out the National Adaptation Program of Action.”
The National Communication is a report to be tabled to the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change it is an obligation as a party under the UNFCCC.  It provides a national update on all the work done in country to address the issue of climate change, ranging from the vulnerability and adaptation assessment, greenhouse gas inventory, the capacity building and public awareness.

Samoa has tabled its second national communication and is now working towards raising funds to produce the third national communication report, a nationwide consultative process.

“It’s a useful planning tool for the country.”

L - R Anne Rasmussen with Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, SPREP

Anne Rasmussen is a friendly face at the UN Climate Change negotiations. 

She’s a breath of fresh Pacific air at this international conference that is weighed down by a ‘cloak and dagger’ atmosphere with different huddles and closed meetings taking place.  Behind most of the closed doors here, many are negotiating an international agreement that centers on billions of dollars, lowering the levels of greenhouse gases and survival for small islands.

This young woman from Samoa has spent time in the thick of the negotiations, despite being overwhelmed and intimidated she has had to work up the courage every time she has made interventions and spoken on behalf of her island home in a room with thousands of people.

She graduated from the University of the South Pacific with an undergraduate in geography and post graduate degree in climate change, upon returning to Samoa nine years ago, she has worked in this field ever since.  One of the most challenging parts has been her role in the UN climate change negotiations.  Samoa signed the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and ratified it in 1994.  It signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2000.  Two years after this, Rasmussen joined the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa beginning her career in climate change and the UN climate negotiations.

“It’s very intimidating, very scary, you have so much in your head but when it comes to being here in this arena and you see a lot of experienced negotiators at this international forum, you get so intimidated you don’t want to speak out in case you say something wrong, or you feel you don’t speak the same language that they are speaking.   It gets scary.”

“How do I overcome it?  I pray a lot!”

This year Anne has taken on a new role, she is the Global Environment Facility Consultant, a position equivalent to that of an Acting Chief Executive Officer under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa.  She still plays an integral part in the negotiations as without realising it Anne herself speaks the UN climate negotiation language, bantering in acronyms and talking the ‘climate change technical talk’.  

“It helps if you read up and know your stuff, a lot of research, understanding and engaging, you are never too old to learn!  Know your stuff, step out there and give it a go!”

L - R Anne Rasmussen with Ambassador Ali'ioaiga Feturi Elisaia

Anne has mastered the skill of being able to feel at home in the international climate change arena, as well as maintaining her strong link with Samoa to ensure climate change action on the ground nationally, the proof is in the second national communications report tabled to the UNFCCC from Samoa, a document which required nationwide consultations with many different levels of Samoa society.  She pays tribute to her mentors who have helped guide her at this level – Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua,Tuuu Ieti Taulealo and Ambassador Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, her fellow delegation members at the UN Climate negotiations.  

Anne Rasmussen has found her feet at this international arena.

Attending the UN climate talks is stressful and challenging with each meeting circumstance being unique, however Annie has remained true to herself, she has not attempted to camouflage into the negotiations process by adopting the hard line approach in the corridors.  Nor has she shirked responsibility and gotten lost in the thousands of people attending the conference just cruising by.  She has maintained her Samoan sense of self; follows the negotiation thread she is charged with, speaks out when needed and always offers a friendly smile and sound advice to others – remaining humble this whole time.  

Writing this article has been a challenge in itself, as Anne wanted to downplay her achievements in the climate change process, both nationally and internationally.

The best gem from this hidden gem is the final words she imparts in this interview that sums up how united the Pacific is at the climate negotiations, rallying together for survival.

“Having faith in the sovereign Lord helps me overcome my fears.  Making friends and the right kind of friends….making close friends in this process and my faith that is what helps one survive.” 
Pacific Women in Climate Change

Cook Islands needs the Kyoto Protocol

L - R Mii Matamaki, Peter Taivairanga, Myra Moeka'a-Patai of the Cook Islands

 28 November, 2012, Doha, Qatar - The Cook Islands is lobbying for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol at the UN Climate Negotiations, the first commitment period runs out at the end of this year.

A second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol will help bring the level of greenhouse gas emissions to a peak before the year 2020 to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees which is what the Cook Islands is calling for, along with other 44 island nations under the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

“The Cook Islands would obviously like to see a second commitment period in place because the KP is the only international agreement that has robust mechanisms and a strong compliance system to ensure that countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” said Myra Moeka’a-Patai, the Head of the Cook Islands delegation.

“It’s a concern for us as we don’t see anything better in place.  A lot of the Annex 1 countries have opted to bring their commitments under the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change, but this Convention doesn’t have any compliance or legally binding target agreements.”

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement under the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  It legally binds industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below the 1990 level between the five-year commitment period of 2008 to 2012.

The 1990 level is that of the greenhouse gas emissions recorded in the year 1990 and the five-year period 2008 to 2012 is the first commitment period.

“When the Kyoto Protocol was developed there was recognition the industrialised countries had a historical response.  As they went through the industrialised process first, they have been polluting for a longer time period so it was recognised that they would take the first steps,” said Ms. Diane McFadzien, the Climate Change Adaptation Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).  McFadzien is also on the Cook Islands delegation providing technical support and advice.

“Since that time the economies of other large countries have grown, raising their emissions to similar levels, which is one of the reasons why some countries aren’t committing to a second period, or ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.  They feel it’s not fair they have to take actions when others with similar emission levels are not taking action.”

During the UN Climate talks in Doha, the Cook Islands are taking part in the negotiations, hoping to bring about a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. 

“I think for us we really need to put a second commitment period in place, the island states are the most vulnerable to the climate change impacts despite only contributing to less than 1% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” said Moeka’a-Patai.

“We must remain hopeful.”

The Kyoto Protocol became a legally binding treaty on 16 February 2005, it came into force after two conditions were met;   it was ratified by a minimum of 55 countries and; it has been ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of emissions from what the Protocol calls “Annex 1” countries – 38 industrialised countries given targets for reducing emissions, plus Belarus, Turkey and now Kazakhstan.

Monday 26 November 2012

Statement delivered by Nauru on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the Opening Plenary, 18th Conference of the Parties, Doha, Qatar

26 November, 2012

Ambassador Marlene Moses, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States

"Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Nauru has the honour to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, a coalition of 44 members particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

AOSIS associates itself with the statement made by Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, The Gambia on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, and Swaziland on behalf of the African Group.

Mr. President, 

At the outset, please allow me to congratulate you on your election to the presidency and to thank the Government and the people of the State of Qatar for their warm reception. Let me also assure you of our support and our constructive engagement in these negotiations as we seek to ensure a successful outcome here in Doha. 

Mr. President, 

Twenty years ago, in recognition of the dangers of climate change, we came together as a global family and negotiated the UNFCCC. It was then a truly ambitious agreement – the product of a time when humanity seemed ready to tackle the greatest challenges of our generation. 

We agreed that those with the greatest responsibility for the problem and greatest capability to address it would take the lead. It was recognized that developing countries would need assistance, particularly the most vulnerable among us. And we set as our objective, not to slow, not to delay, but to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

At its heart, the Convention was a pact we all made to safeguard the lives and life prospects of present and future generations. As we convene here in Doha at what is an important crossroads in our global effort to combat climate change, it is appropriate to reflect on whether or not we have realized our noble ambitions. 

It is difficult to answer in the affirmative when only one month ago, Hurricane Sandy hit our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and in the United States, resulting in dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in damage, and reminding us that we are all in this together. Many island communities have been experiencing the impacts of more frequent and more intense extreme weather effects for some time, but when the tragedies occur far away from the media’s spotlight, they are too easily ignored or forgotten. 

As we embark on our negotiations over the next few weeks, we must keep in our minds and in our hearts the victims of Hurricane Sandy, many of whom are still trying to put their lives back together, and the countless other members of our global family who are impacted by climate change. 

Mr. President, 

This conference is about nothing less than preserving the fundamental integrity of the climate change regime, and that must begin with a strong second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the legal embodiment of the commitment made by Annex I Parties to take the lead in addressing climate change. It is only because of the promise of a second commitment period that the developing world agreed to enter negotiations under the Durban Platform on a new legal agreement “applicable to all.” 

Bringing all countries under one protocol is a fundamental change in the regime with potentially far reaching implications, but it was also part of a larger package. If the developed world shirks its responsibility, then there will be no chance of a meaningful legal agreement under the Durban Platform.

But a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol cannot be a second commitment period in name only - it must be ambitious and it must be credible. 

AOSIS Leaders met in New York two short months ago and adopted a Declaration reaffirming our positions on the Kyoto Protocol. Our Heads of State and Government have agreed that a credible second commitment period must include more ambitious QELROs from Annex I Parties, a 5-year commitment period, provisional application, flexibility mechanisms limited to those Parties taking on internationally legally binding mitigation commitments, and lastly, strict limits on the carryover of surplus AAUs, as proposed by the G77 and China. 

The offer from partners currently on the table is deeply inadequate in ambition, would subvert the integrity of the international regime, and thereby jeopardise the entire Durban package. If developed countries cannot live up to their current obligations, how can we have any confidence in a future agreement. 

Mr. President, 

The UNEP Gap Report makes it clear that ambition must be raised urgently. The gap is growing! The world is on a dangerous trajectory that will take us to over 3 degrees of warming and we are running out of time to change course. This is why AOSIS has proposed a comprehensive workplan to continue enhancing mitigation ambition over the next two years. The agreement to undertake such a workplan was another critical element of the Durban package and essential to allowing AOSIS to join consensus. It must remain a central priority for our work here in Doha. 

An outcome in Doha that does not include a substantive set of workplan activities for 2013 to increase pre-2020 mitigation ambition is one that AOSIS cannot accept. As we have said before, a failure to close the pre-2020 mitigation ambition gap would have profound implications for the scale, scope and nature of the necessary commitments and obligations under the new Protocol we have committed to adopt in 2015. An intensive and concerted effort to close the gap must start here in Doha.

Mr. President, 

Long-term finance was the missing element of the Durban package and it must not be forgotten in Doha. Developed countries have committed to mobilize 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to fund adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. We need concrete commitments towards fulfilling that promise. As it now stands, the Green Climate Fund is an empty shell and the fast start financing period will conclude at the end of this year. 

AOSIS calls for a commitment by developed countries to ensure that there is no gap in the provision of scaled-up, new and predictable climate finance to developing countries after the end of the fast start finance period. In this regard, we call for the commencement of a second fast start-like period from 2013-2015. We also call for common accounting rules to ensure that these funds are truly new and additional. This is critical given the urgent and immediate needs of developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. 

Mr. President, 

Lastly, establishing an international mechanism to address loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change has long been a priority of AOSIS. It takes on even more urgency in light of the low mitigation ambition reflected in current pledges, the worsening of climate impacts, and the inadequacy of international support for adaptation strategies in vulnerable countries. AOSIS has made a concrete proposal on a mechanism for loss and damage and we look forward to agreeing to establish such a mechanism here in Doha. 

Mr. President, 

AOSIS is here to ensure that our rhetoric is reflected in our actions. How can we accept an outcome that lacks environmental integrity and pat ourselves on the back for having reached an agreement that fundamentally jeopardises our future? The letter and the spirit of the Convention must guide our work here in Doha. We must be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye, and tell them that we fought to protect a safe and prosperous future for all. 

Thank you, Mr. President."