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."

Pacific islands ask for another five year commitment under the Kyoto Protocol

Solomon Island delegation - Ambassador Colin Beck on right

26 November 2012, Doha Qatar, UNFCCC COP 18 - Pacific island countries are calling for a second five-year commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.  They unite with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in Doha, Qatar to negotiate this as the first commitment period runs out at this end of this year.

“What we need as of the 1st of January, in a few weeks time, is we need to see credible second commitment reduction levels, as the key to our survival in the Pacific is an ambitious reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” said H.E Ambassador Colin Beck, the UN representative from the Solomon Islands.

“I think the problem facing the Pacific is beyond the Pacific to address, it needs a global solution and this is where we need to work with everybody that wants to work to save humanity.”
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, the goal behind the Alliance of Small Island States.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement under the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  It legally binds industrialized 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.

Negotiations opened today in Doha, Qatar at the 18th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, it has already been a busy week for the Pacific as they strategise and plan a way forward as part of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

“It was agreed in the Kyoto Protocol that there would be future commitment periods with the second one starting in 1 January next year,” said Ms. Diane McFadzien, the Climate Change Adaptation Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“A second commitment period provides certainty.  While there are countries that have made voluntary pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, having a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol provides an official verification and measurement system in place to work with the countries reducing their emissions.”

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.

Scene@COP 18 in Doha

Sights from the Pacific preparatory meeting on 21 November, a time for the Pacific delegates to come together and plan the way forward

Vanuatu, AOSIS and Tuvalu
Group photo at the end of the day
Group work - table of Pacific delegates discussing way forward for the Climate change talks

Diane McFadzien SPREP and Dean Bialek Marshall Islands

Teall Crossen AOSIS, Albert Williams Vanuatu, Douglas Yee Solomon Islands