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.”

More Pacific youth needed at UN Climate Change negotiations

Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV in Doha, Qatar
Interview with Devika Raj-Project Survival Pacific Rep

The Pacific youth ambassador at the UNFCCC COP 18, Devika Raj is hoping to empower youths in creating awareness on climate change in the region.

Raj says one of the ways to do so is to create more avenues to educate people especially youths about climate change.

Given the vulnerability of pacific islands to climate change, youths can play a pivotal role in voicing concerns of the Pacific region.

However Raj says there should be a greater participation of youths in climate change related activities, and is hoping more youths from the region will come forward in future and carry out negotiations.

In the past UN climate negotiations Pacific youth played a stronger role, she hopes that this will strengthen at future events.

Ground covered at the UN climate negotiations in the education agenda item

Country delegates celebrating Article 6 achievement, Photo: Diane McFadzien
4 December 2012, Doha, Qatar - By the end of the first week of UN Climate change negotiations, the agenda on Article 6 – training, education and public awareness, had reached a decision to be adopted.

The Doha Work Programme on Article 6 of the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change, an 8 year plan on how to approach awareness of climate change will be presented to the parties to the convention next week for adoption.

This was a moment to celebrate in these negotiations, where reaching an agreed position is not always easy.

Mii Matamaki of the Cook Islands
 “We are really happy that we have reached a consensus so quickly, it shows the true spirit of cooperation and compromise in this process,” said Mii Matamaki of the Cook Islands National Environment Service, she was following this arm of negotiations. 

“Article 6 is important to us in the Cook Islands as we do a lot of awareness work with our communities on climate change.  We really wanted to follow this through to lobby for more funds so there is no burden on our national budget in carrying out Article 6 of the convention.”

In the Solomon Islands, Article 6 features a vital role to ensure that local communities know what climate change is about and how it will impact them.

“It’s important for the Solomon Islands government and our communities to ensure that the work we do on climate change awareness and understanding reaches those that are really affected by it,” said Chanel Iroi of the Solomon Islands.

There are six thematic areas in the Doha Programme of work under Article 6, these are; Education; Training; Public awareness; Public access to information; Public participation and; International cooperation.

The New Delhi Programme of work that guided all Education, public awareness and training ended this year.  It was reviewed and gaps that were identified were included in the Doha programme of work to be adopted by the parties and implemented as of next year.

The Solomon Islands are coming to the end of a climate change awareness raising activity with a twist.  The Ministry of Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology have staged a band competition calling for bands to submit lyrics for songs.  The Ministry then conducts a climate change session with them to help the bands understand more about the issue, based on that the bands have reworked their lyrics. 

20 of the bands were selected to compete in the competition which will have first, second and third place winners.  A music video will also be compiled on the bands and their entries.

Chanel Iroi on left, with the Solomon Islands Delegation
“This is really exciting and it has helped us target a young audience which was the aim behind this band competition.  We were really surprised as we got so many entries for this.  While a younger audience was our target for this competition, we also conduct activities and work closely with our stakeholders and NGO community,” said Iroi.

The Cook Islands have conducted a number of different climate change awareness activities.  The ‘Climate Change in the Pacific’ booklet produced by WWF South Pacific was translated into Cook Islands Maori using local examples and actions.  Presentations on climate change were made with primary and secondary schools, Cook Islands Christian Church council meetings and the theological college. 

The Cook Islands National Environment Service supported the Pacific Year of Climate Change in 2009 also.  According to Mii Matamaki, the new Doha Programme of Work highlights exciting opportunities.

“We launched our second national communication this year, it’s an overall report to the UNFCCC on all climate change work that we have done.  It is one of the obligations for the Cook Islands as a party member, in this report we have also listed and discussed all work the Cook Islands conducted under Article 6.  We look forward to strengthening this with the Doha Programme of Work.”