Thursday 6 December 2012

Marshall Islands calls on other nations to break "you go first" deadlock at UN climate talks

Marshall Islands Minister-In-Assistance to the President, Tony deBrum being interviewed by Fiji TV

6 December 2012, Doha, Qatar - Marshall Islands Minister-In-Assistance to the President, Tony deBrum, after a meeting between the Alliance of Small Island States and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, announced that "the next Pacific Islands Forum Leader's summit, hosted by the Marshall Islands in August 2013 will be a key milestone leading up to the 2014 global leaders climate meeting.  It is time the world focused not only on our vulnerability, but on our leadership.  The Pacific will not only call on other nations to break the "you go first" deadlock, but as incoming Chair, we will be challenging our own members, including small islands, to raise climate change to the top of the political agenda."

Marshall Islands Minister makes a strong call at UN Climate talks

Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV in Doha, Qatar
Interview with Hon. Tony A. deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands

6 December, 2012 - The tuna supply of the Marshall Islands is threatened by the impacts of climate change.

The Islands is part of the Nauru Group consisting of eight countries that supplies 52 percent of raw tuna to the world market.

Marshall Islands Minister in Assistance to the President, Tony deBrum says the rich marine ecosystem of the Marshall Islands is bleaching and degrading, thus not reflecting a positive future for the thriving industry.

According to the Minister in assistance to the President, the Marshall Islands is only two meters above the sea level and is in the world's top five list of most vulnerable areas to climate change.

Just like other Pacific Island Countries, the Islands is also hoping that Industrialised nations commit to a five-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

With the Marshall Islands earmarked to host the 44th Pacific Islands Forum next year, deBrum is optimistic that the issues of climate change would be one of the leading agendas of the Pacific leaders.

To take the first step itself in mitigating the impacts of climate change, the Marshall Islands will have all its houses and buildings powered by the solar energy by the end of next year.

The Islands is also venturing into ocean thermal energy conversion projects..

Pacific Women in Climate Change - meet Pepetua Latasi, Tuvalu

Ms. Pepetua Latasi, presenting on behalf of the LEG at the UN Climate change negotiations in Doha

5 December 2012, Doha, Qatar - This is the third in a series of human interest stories by SPREP’s Nanette Woonton on Pacific women showing leadership in the climate change field.

Sitting here at the Pacific booth at the UN Climate Negotiations in Doha, every so often someone will ask me where the Pacific is.  When I list the countries people nod when they hear Tahiti and Fiji, but when I mention Tuvalu there is a knowing smile, “aaaah…sinking islands,” is what they usually say.

Tuvalu, according to the World Bank in 2011, has a population of close to 10,000 people.  I’ve met a Tuvaluan who has left her shores for these two weeks to make a splash at the international arena and she seems to be doing a good job.  Ms. Pepetua Latasi of Tuvalu is the only female in the Expert Group for the Least Developed Countries aka the LEG, at the UN Climate Negotiations on top of that she is the Head of this group and has been reinstated to complete a second two year term.

“It’s very challenging.  When I first started I was really lost.  This is a really complicated process and the language they use is like a whole new dialect.  They shorten everything, and there are so many acronyms,” said Pepetua.

“I have found out that the only way you can get your message across is by making your voice heard by others and that is one of the greatest things I find about being the Chair of the LEG, I can let people know where Tuvalu is and what we are experiencing because most people don’t know.”

The LEG consists of 12 members two of them are from the Small Island Developing States, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands.  It was established to advise and provide technical support to the Least Developed Country parties on issues related to adaptation and meets twice a year.

Under the guidance of Ms. Pepetua Latasi, the Least Developed Countries Expert Group completed their technical guidelines for the National Adaptation Plan of Action, which must be implemented by the LDC’s under the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change. 

The LEG is now working on the National Action Plan technical guidelines which will be presented at the UN climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

“It is an experts group so there is no negotiations work done in this group at all, it is all technical work in the LEG.  It takes a lot of time and commitment to be a part of this, on top of what I am already doing at the national level in Tuvalu.  It is a lot of work.”

It’s amazing that a Pacific woman from the island nation of Tuvalu is leading a group of 12 special experts at this international arena.  Especially Pepetua, she caught up on the process after taking a break to complete her Undergraduate degree in climate change policy and environment management 2008 and then returned to join the UN climate negotiations in 2011. 

Pepetua also presented at the opening meeting of the 18th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, reading a statement on behalf of the Least Developed Experts Group, addressing a meeting hall of several thousand people.

“It’s a very good experience being the Chair of the LEG.  I am building my capacity, but have also established networks and met people that are able to assist us and Tuvalu.”

Pepetua taking time out during a lunch break, with her Tuvalu delegates

A lot of commitment, hard work and support, has helped Pepetua succeed at what she does including support at home.  Pepetua is the mother of a young son and having spent a number of years in this process, with her heavy work schedule the dynamics have changed at home.

“I have a little boy at home and after doing this process for a while I miss out on a lot.  Things like his birthday, preschool graduations and all those types of things.  I have even noticed at home that my son turns to his father for things that he used to ask me to do, the little things like if my son wants a drink or wants to go to sleep, he asks for his Father instead of me, he has a growing attachment to his Dad more than me.”

Secure in the support she has, Pepetua has stepped up to the plate.  She is representing her island nation with pride, being fearless in making the voice of Tuvalu heard and taking on the responsibility of leading a UN climate change experts group.  You hear the expression – “one can sink or swim.”  Having dived into the UN climate negotiations, Peptua is definitely swimming strong.

“I encourage other Pacific women to take whatever positions they have taken on, especially in taking leadership positions.  There is nothing wrong a women excelling in a typically male environment.  I’d tell them to go for it!”

Pacific women in climate change.

Palau at the UN Climate Talks in Doha

Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV in Doha, Qatar
Interview with Mr. Joseph Aitaro,  National Coordinator, Palau Protected Areas Network

So far we have heard how climate change has been posing a long and short term threats to countries around the world especially Pacific.
However climate change is now a major threat to Palau's leading income earner, the tourism industry.

With a population of just over 20 thousand people, Palau is now facing unpredictable weather patterns, coastal erosion, damage to its natural beauty as well as food security issues.

The United Nations Environment Programme has now stepped in to provide Palau monitoring and technical support.

Palau is also hoping that the second commitment period by the world leaders  would bear some positive results.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

UNFCC COP 18 High Level Statement by Samoa

The Prime Minister of Samoa (middle) Head of the delegation of Samoa at COP 18, Doha

Statement by Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi Prime Minister of Samoa

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I want to place on record my delegation’s deepest appreciation to the Government and people of the State of Qatar for being gracious hosts.

Global warming is the greatest challenge to mankind. It is an existential threat and an issue of survival, especially for populations of low-lying islands who had long felt and experienced the impacts of climate change.

Durban produced a delicately-balanced deal last year to help address the threat of climate change, in the post-Kyoto Protocol period, and beyond. There were agreements and understandings reached in good faith, as part of the package. Doha was expected to deliver a Second Commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, to wrap up the parallel Convention track negotiations on long-term cooperative actions, and to progress and consolidate the Durban Platform negotiations for a new global climate policy architecture.

Doha however was not meant to reinterpret and renegotiate the Durban deal, as last week’s talks showed. In fact, one or two timelines had shifted, and some hard fought gains by some groups seemed to have been lost. The intransigent positions of others are stalling agreement on an ambitious plan to fight global warming. These are unhelpful and self-centered. Yet the gravity and the immediacy of climate change compel us to be decisive and be forward-looking. It forces us to step outside of our comfort zones to take a long hard look at ourselves and others, and the reality of the world we live in. The inaction and indifference to the plight of those vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the least capable to respond effectively because of a misplaced sense of some that there is somehow insulation from such risks, only makes the goal of curbing climate change more difficult and more expensive. Time is running out.  

The World Bank report released last month revealed some sobering and frightening truths. The world is on a path to a 4 degree Celsius warmer world by the end of the century. And a series of scientific reports are forecasting similar scenarios unless bold actions are taken today, not tomorrow, and by everyone, not just a few. The dire consequences now predicted will also unavoidably be given focus in the Third Conference on SIDS that Samoa hosts in 2014.

Mr. President,

It is this clear urgency and the unsatisfactory state of the global response to climate change so far that prompts Samoa to try and be represented at the highest political level at the Conference of the Parties and all related meetings. As has been obvious for a long time now, increased ambition must underpin the whole of the climate change negotiations. But it should not be an exclusive domain to mitigation efforts only. We strongly support the call for ambitious mitigation targets pre-2020 and post 2020 with a legally binding Second Commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. But we also want parties to be just as ambitious in the provision of climate resources to benefit adaptation and mitigation activities equally, together with technology that are appropriate and affordable and the setting up of an appropriate mechanism to deal with loss and damage.

Mr. President,

The First Commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, an important milestone in the history of the global climate regime, will end on December 31st. While we were hopeful that more states parties would join a Second Commitment period, obviously this will not be the case.

Given this reality and the uncertainty in the level of ambitions starting 2013, for Samoa, the focus should not be on whether one’s pledges or commitments will be made under the Kyoto Protocol or the Framework Convention, the real test for all of us is how to find a way to ensure that there is ambitious and meaningful emission reductions irrespective of where they are anchored. We see complimentary activities in the same vein as long as they are additional to existing pledges and can meaningfully contribute to reducing the ambition gap.

Mr. President,

Climate change is a global problem beyond the capacity of any one country or group of countries to solve successfully. Only a concerted global effort of states and their stakeholders working in genuine partnerships, where every input is valued and appreciated no matter how modest or insignificant it may appear, can we stand a chance of success. This is shared responsibility to act together to deal with the climate crisis according to one’s own capabilities.

Our message is simple and genuine.

We want to be part of the climate change solution and to make positive contributions to the global effort. Being a small isolated island country with a limited resource-base has never been an excuse not to do our bit. Although the size of our effort maybe be very small at the global scale it is nevertheless significant compared to the size of our country and economy. Very importantly, we continue to try and show through modest examples the critical nature of the collective effort and commitment required from all countries if we are to succeed in turning around climate change.  

While Samoa has acted domestically to do our part to contribute to the global response to climate change, it is only through partnerships with sympathetic countries and their willingness to act ambitiously domestically themselves that could make possible the magnitude of the response needed to address the catastrophic consequences of climate change now irrefutably predicted by science.

Thank you.

AOSIS Ministers: Our Survival Hinges on Ambition

3 December 2012
CONTACT: Contact: Michael Crocker, 1 978 968 9499 

DOHA—Following the Alliance of Small Island States’ (AOSIS) High Level Meeting on Sunday, ministers and heads of delegation from the coalition of 43 countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, together released the following statement reaffirming the group’s positions at the start of the final week of UN climate talks here:
“We begin the final week of negotiations in Doha with the sober recognition that time is running out to prevent the loss of entire nations and other calamities in our membership and around the world.
“Since we last met in Durban, many of our countries have endured numerous extreme, and in some cases deadly, weather events, such as prolonged droughts, heat waves, floods, and superstorms—not to mention accelerating sea level rise and increasing ocean acidification.
“If the onslaught of disasters is not enough to convince the world to act, a series of scientific reports released immediately before the start of the talks should leave no doubt: without bold action to close the ambition gap we are on track for 3-5 degree Celsius rise in temperature and a global catastrophe. Another analysis that showed limiting global warming below 2 degrees C – or even to below 1.5 degrees remains technically and economically feasible, but only with political ambition backed by rapid action. That must start here in Doha.
“The package AOSIS agreed to in Durban last year was contingent upon immediately raising mitigation ambition in the short-term. Our positions all derive from this climate imperative:
“First, the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol should be for a length of five-years to avoid locking-in insufficient mitigation ambition and provisional application remains the strongest available legal option for avoiding a legal gap between the first and second commitment periods.
“Second, the use of surplus units from the first commitment period must be strictly limited in the second commitment period, and we must avoid the creation of new surplus at the outset of the second commitment period to protect the environmental integrity of the treaty.
“Third, parties must reaffirm that legally binding QELROS inscribed in Annex B for the second commitment period are required for all Annex I Parties wishing to participate in the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms.
“Furthermore, those few Annex 1 countries that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol must also take more ambitious and comparable mitigation commitments under the LCA.
“Lastly, here in Doha, we must have a decision to ramp up mitigation ambition in 2013 under the Workplan, by agreeing to activities that enable countries to take more ambitious action and close the ambition gap.
“The science is clear: further delay would mean the opportunity to avert a global calamity would be irrevocably lost.”