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Pacific and Climate Vulnerable Concerns over lack of ambition at COP24 given the climate emergency

Pacific Island Nations, Least Developed Countries, and Climate Vulnerable Forum have all raised concerns over the level of ambition by the developed countries, including Australia.

While some progress appears to have been made on development of the Paris rulebook, talks appear to have reached a substantial deadlock. While some nations have lifted ambition at COP24, many are still yet to commit to increasing targets or climate action.

It should be noted the Marshall Islands has lead by example and is the first nation to submit a new more ambitious NDC to the UNFCCC on 22 November around the margin of the virtual climate summit hosted in November.

Of particular relevance to Australia is the Pacific Islands’ declaration calling on all OECD countries to quickly phase out their use of coal by 2030 “There must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines.” says the declaration.

Australia’s ministerial statement by Environment Minister Melissa Price failed to address any ambition and ignored the calls to reign in coal expansion and stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland.

Pacific Small Island Developing States Declaration on the Urgent Need for Scaled Up Action on Climate Change

We, the Heads of Government, Ministers and Heads of Delegation from the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) welcome the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report (Note1) on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels (SR 1.5o C). We call for the meaningful inclusion of the SR 1.5°C in the COP24 decision texts.

1. We express deep concern at the findings of the SR 1.5o C which conclude that the effects of human-induced climate change are worse than previously projected and that the risks to PSIDS from loss and damage are extensive. These include, amongst others marine ecosystems impacts, sea level rise and extreme weather events, livelihoods and the threatened survival of island communities, particularly those living on coral atolls. Sea level rise also undermines the permanence of our maritime baselines and maritime boundaries.

2. We also welcome the “Samoa Declaration on Climate Change in the context of Sustainable Development for SIDS” adopted during the Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting for mid-term review of the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway in Apia on 1 November 2018.

3. We welcome the “Boe Declaration” endorsed by Leaders in Nauru that firmly reasserts that climate change represents the single greatest threat to our livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and also reaffirms commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

4. We are alarmed that current global efforts to combat climate change are insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5o C above pre-industrial levels. We therefore urge the world to pursue all opportunities to maximise climate action including forest management, renewable energy and others highlighted by the SR 1.5oC. Limiting warming to 1.5oC is a matter of survival for PSIDS.

5. We reiterate, that limiting warming to 1.5°C remains feasible. We urge all Parties to act now.

6. We are deeply alarmed at the growing number of people displaced by the impacts of climate change. While we acknowledge that the Global Compact for Migration recognizes climate change as a driver of displacement and migration, we call for the development of an international legal regime and support framework based on human rights to protect people displaced by climate change.

7. We urgently call on the world to take dramatic steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular calling on countries to significantly raise the ambition of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In this regard, we call on international partners and financial institutions, to support efforts towards a low carbon development pathway.

8. We call on all OECD countries to quickly phase out their use of coal by 2030 and for all other countries to phase out their use of coal by 2040. There must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines.

9. We affirm that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement are the key international legal instruments to address climate change. We look forward to the completion of ambitious implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement at COP24. In this regard the inclusion of Loss and Damage (Article 8 of the Paris Agreement) in the ImplementatPacific Small Island Developing States Declaration on the Urgent Need for Scaled Up Action on Climate Changeion Guidelines on matters relating to Transparency, Finance, Technology development and transfer, Capacity building and the Global Stocktake is an absolute necessity.

10. In terms of supporting the pre-2020 ambition, we underscore that it is critically important that the Talanoa Dialogue delivers a decision that mandates the increase in the ambition of all NDCs to deliver a pathway that would limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. We call on all Parties to support the COP Presidencies of Fiji and Poland to ensure that the outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue delivers its purpose in guiding the preparation of revised and ambitious NDCs.

11. We note with concern the growing frequency and severity of climate related hazards experienced in the PSIDS region and the escalating cost of rehabilitation and recovery that PSIDS are having to bear. We call on all Parties, in particular developed country Parties and non-Party stakeholders to provide scaled-up finance, including risk finance mechanisms and public finance, to support national efforts to address these worsening impacts and loss and damage. We further, call for enhanced, efficient, simplified and timely access to these resources.

12. We are deeply concerned about the adverse impacts of climate change on the Ocean. We call for a focused work program under the Paris Agreement to develop enhanced strategies, in collaboration with UN agencies, regional organizations and civil society amongst others, to assist our efforts to protect and conserve the Ocean. We call on development partners to support initiatives that can develop climate change adaptation measures and capacity building associated with protecting and restoring the coastal and marine environment.

13. We welcome the entry into force on 1 January 2019 the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that

Notes:
Note 1: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.


There was room for two brief questions:

Ben Doherty (Guardian): One of the key elements from the statement this afternoon has been about the phasing out coal by 2030 by OECD countries. The United States has indicated this week it intends to continue to use fossil fuels for the forseeable future, Australia yesterday announced it was prepared to underwrite new coal projects in Australia. Are you concerned that developed Pacific rim countries aren’t sufficiently supporting decarbonisation?

Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama (Fiji): I have made a statement that we request that everybody increase their ambition, and that goes for everyone, all countries. Thankyou.

There was another question from Monica from Associated Press who asked, “are these talks successful? Do they have a chance at being successful? will all the points on the agenda be met as expected? Are you hopeful for them?”

Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Hon. Henry Puna: “We always live in hope madam, and if you were at the national statements yesterday afternoon it was really comforting to here everybody, without exception, singing the same tune about the urgent need to address climate change. So we live in hope, yes. …. There are always obstacles, but we live in hope and we are optimistic that those will be addressed before the conclusion of the conference tomorrow.”

While everyone might have been singing the same tune as they delivered national statements, some like the traditional blockers such as the USA, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Australia, were clearly singing in a false key.


Statement on lack of ambition and deadlock in COP24 talks

from Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 16:20 (GMT+1) Katowice, Poland, 13 December 2018

As negotiators here reached a deadlock over finalizing the so-called Paris Agreement rulebook, guidance needed to operationalize the landmark climate accord, the Alliance of Small Island States and Least Developed Countries Groups, collectively representing 79 states, 4 observer states, and over 920 million people, sent a demand to the President of COP 24 that raises concerns over the lack of ambition in the talks and reiterates what the latest science has demonstrated is needed to avoid a climate change catastrophe, including the loss of entire nations to sea level rise.

Letter below.

We the undersigned,

Deeply concerned over the direction in which the outcomes of COP 24 are heading;

Deeply convinced that COP 24 should result in significant efforts to achieve the greatest level of global ambition in responding to climate change;

Hereby urge all Parties and call on the Presidency to ensure that the outcome of COP 24 includes the following, amongst the other priorities highlighted in the negotiations:

1. Welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, and the challenges it poses to sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty (1.5°C Special Report).

2. Establishes a process to identify approaches to integrate the findings of the work of the IPCC into the implementation of the convention and the Paris Agreement by COP 25.

3. Welcomes the information emanating from the Talanoa Dialogue and urges Parties to update/communicate their NDCs by 2020 in light of the findings of the Talanoa Dialogue and the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.50C.

4. Establishes a robust and comprehensive rulebook that ensures immediate ratcheting up of climate ambition based on the 1.5°C Special Report and findings of Talanoa Dialogue.

5. Fully incorporates Loss and Damage into the relevant provisions of the Paris Agreement Rulebook, including in the Transparency Framework, Finance and the Global Stocktake.

6. Establishes a robust transparency framework that provides clarity on finance provided and received which avoids double-counting; identifies and ensures that financial flows are reaching those who most need the support; and scales up finances, particularly for adaptation and loss and damage, consistent with pathways for achieving the 1.5-degree Celsius goal.

— Maldives on behalf of Alliance of Small Island States (40 states and 4 observer states)

— Ethiopia on behalf of Least Developed Countries (49 states)


The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) on Jumemej Declaration calls for ambition at Katowice

“We call all parties to unite against any mediocre outcome from COP24. As poor and vulnerable countries, we have pledged to do all we can to take greater action by 2020. We did so to prevent warming from going to most dangerous levels, beyond 1.5C,” said H.E. Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands and current Chair of the CVF. “We are bearing the torch for those vulnerable to climate change. We represent a number of nations, like my own, that face extinction. Species of all kinds also face existential risk.”

Dr Heine outlined that on the 22nd of November, the CVF hosted their Virtual Summit, which was nearly entirely emissions free.

Watch the video Message from Dr Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands:.

The world will judge every nation, for the measures of their contributions – David Paul

H.E. David Paul, Hon. Minister-in-Assistance-to-the-President and of Environment, Marshall Islands declared that “We are proud of our Jummemej declaration and we have invited all parties to join the declaration.”

“We have risen up and are calling for the world to shift from dialog following the Talanoa that ended last night, to action. Specifically that action is Jummemej which my president has said is a state of permanent alert or watchfulness. Jummemej is the task of a person who keeps watch when we cross the ocean between atolls and islands on our journeys, on our canoes. So we have invited every party to join the Jummemej Declaration, and I am encouraged by all those who have joined the CVF today to stand by us.

“We are all of one human family and as government representatives we have been asked to keep watch, be alert.”

“We have been put on watch by the IPCC Report on 1.5 degrees. We know it can be done, but not if we delay. If this COP does not send a clear signal to enhance NDCs by 2020, the next opportunity to have the world updating NDCs is 2025. This COP needs to give parties sufficient time to prepare their NDCs by 2020.”

“We are out of time.” He called on all countries to update their NDCs by 2020, following the example of the Marshall Islands.

“The world will judge every nation, for the measures of their contributions.” David Paul concluded.

We can only survive as a nation, if we also survive as a planet! – Mohamed Nasheed

“We are not prepared to die. We have no intention of becoming climate change’s first victim. We will do whatever it takes to survive,” added H.E. Mohamed Nasheed, former President of Maldives and co-founder of the CVF and current AOSIS Chair.

Nasheed outlined that Climate change is a national security issue for the Maldives and an existential threat. He articulated that the recent IPCC report is very clear, that emissions need to be reduced by 45% in 12 years.

“In our quest for adaptation we want to work with nature not against it.” he said, “We will create sea walls that promote coral reef growth and other more sustainable solutions. The coral reefs are the backdrop of our country. The Maldives is a living ecosystem, we do not want to see it die. We call on other coral nations in an Emergency Coalition to save the world’s reefs.”

“We must demand investments in clean energy rather than emission cuts, because clean energy will naturally reduce emissions.”

“We must implement a radical shift in thinking about adaptation that promote solutions that protect: our coastlines, the oceans, and our land. Developed countries must agree to finance the gaps in investment to successfully allow the world to adapt to climate change. It is time for us to change our tactics. Countries are not listening to our language.”

“We can only survive as a nation, if we also survive as a planet!” concluded Mohamed Nasheed.

The CVF, a group of 48 of the most vulnerable countries in the planet, warned that amidst prolonged floods, droughts and extreme weather events that devastate lives and economies, a robust rulebook for Paris is absolutely crucial but enhanced NDCs by 2020 are critical and must be signaled at COP24. All countries must take concrete actions to satisfy public expectations for enhanced ambition and climate action.

It called for special vigilance or “Jumemmej” given how much is at stake.

The group further said that a clear signal in Katowice would give time to engage citizens, business and investors on how to deliver climate action ahead of the 2020 deadline for updating national contributions. A COP outcome must make it clear that countries should increase their ambition together with adequate international financial support in order to put climate action on the pathways needed to keep the 1.5°C limit.

Emphasis was placed on the IPCC 1.5 Special Report which confirmed the far safer goal is achievable if decisive action is taken now, but that mankind only has a limited number of years to keep the 1.5 limit possible.

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International spoke on standing in solidarity with the most vulnerable.

“Every country here needs to step back and remember why we are here. How is it not possible that after we realize that humanity is at stake, we don’t see immediate action!?” she said.

“We need to respond to this emergency. Countries need to stop listening to their commercial interests and listen to their own morals. Phasing out coal and 100 per cent renewable energy is a necessity. This is the beginning of the Emergency Coalition here.”

The Transition must be Just

CVF speakers highlighted that strikes in schools around the world, activists risking arrests in the UK, USA, and Europe, as well as Yellow Vest protests in France are a wake up call that climate policy must be done in ways that enhance social justice and deliver climate benefits to all.

A question from David Shukman, Science Editor with BBC news “After the publication of the IPCC report on 1.5, do you sense it has made any difference in any of the discussions among government delegations, not among the NGOs, but among governments here in Katowice?”

Mohamed Nasheed answered: “No David, Nothing is happening. Absolutely nothing is happening. We are using the same language, the same techniques, then they talk about brackets, then they talk about …. they have this whole dictionary of words that has been born into this climate conferences, and we go round and round and round with these words and we are not going anywhere.”

Watch the hour long Climate Vulnerable Forum press Conference at COP24

Reference:
CVF press release: Climate Vulnerable Forum: Risks of Extinction to Countries