Cablegate: Countries Vulnerable to Climate Change Press for Action At


DE RUEHLM #1033/01 3180535
R 140535Z NOV 09





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Countries Vulnerable to Climate Change Press for Action at
Copenhagen Conference; Seek More Funds for Climate Adaption

1. (U) SUMMARY: Government leaders from eleven countries
participated in the Climate Vulnerable Forum November 9-10 in the
Maldives. The participants and observers heard from experts on
special challenges the most vulnerable countries are facing,
scientific aspects of global climate goals, and legal facets of
international climate protocols. Following two days of discussion,
Forum participants developed a final statement calling on developed
countries to provide public money amounting to at least 1.5% of
their GDP to assist developing countries make their transition to a
climate resilient low-carbon economy. The full statement is
included in paragraph 9. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The Deputy Chief of Mission and EconOff attended the
Climate Vulnerable Forum in the Maldives with observer status.
Delegates at the Climate Vulnerable Forum included President Tong of
Kiribati, as well as foreign and environment ministers from
Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, and
representatives from Barbados and Bhutan. The other countries
attending the Forum as observers were China, Denmark, France, Japan,
The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and the UK.

3. (U) President Nasheed of The Maldives gave an impassioned
opening address in which he noted that failure at Copenhagen would
mean the elimination of the climate vulnerable countries and their
peoples and warned that climate change negotiations cannot be viewed
like any other international issue, stating 'we cannot cut deal with
Mother Nature.' He urged the developed countries to provide a
significant sum of money to the developing world to assist in the
transition to low-carbon economies and for adaptation projects.
Nasheed likened the current sums on offer to 'arriving at an
earthquake zone with a dustpan and brush.' But he also called on
those countries present to take action at home as well, pointing to
his government's efforts to reach a carbon-neutral economy within
ten years by transitioning to wind and solar energy and purchasing
offsets to counter carbon emissions from the aviation industry.

4. (U) Each of the delegates also gave remarks highlighting their
problems at home, from desertification, enhanced drought/flood
cycles, melting glaciers, rising seas and loss of agricultural land.
Mark Lynans, President Nasheed's environmental advisor and a
partner at Oxford Climate Associates, discussed the need to bring
atmospheric carbon concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm)
vice the 387 ppm we are currently at today to avert the 'triple
whammy' currently affecting Maldives - rising sea levels, bleaching
of the protective coral, and ocean acidification which literally
melts the carbonate rocks from which the islands are built. Lynans
also argued not just for adaptation financing, in developing
countries, but mitigation financing as well, to fund carbon
reduction projects.

5. (U) There were also presentations by Bill Hare of the Potsdam
Institute for Climate Impact Research, Saleemul Huq of the
International Institute of Climate and Development, and Farhana
Yamin of the Institute of Development Studies on themes for the
governments to consider when drafting the declaration. They
discussed some of the science behind global warming, various
scenarios based on response levels, special challenges confronting
the most climate vulnerable countries, the need for technology
transfer, and legal forms and Copenhagen outcomes. Participants and
observers from the G-77, France, the Commonwealth, and the private
sector called for swift action at Copenhagen lest momentum - and
valuable time - be lost. Yamin discussed the 'special situation' of
the United States and the need for Congressional passage of domestic
legislation on climate change.

6. (SBU) Throughout the two day conference, participants' comments
were generally tempered and moderate. Most recognized that they as
individual countries need to do more at home to manage their
environments. Rwanda's Environment Minister Karega, for example,
described his country's efforts with reforestation to improve

rainfall and water quality. While most nations did note their own
lack of culpability for the current crisis, they emphasized that the
response lies not only with the industrialized countries, but also
with the rapidly developing economies - and indeed with all

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The final declaration (see paragraph 9), while
assertive and forward-leaning, is also more moderate in tone than
earlier drafts, demonstrating the participants' desire to be a
'consistent and persistent, yet positive voice' in the climate
change debate. Funded mainly by the British Government with support
from the Swedes, the Climate Vulnerable Forum offered these eleven
countries an opportunity to get together and map out a common
message for Copenhagen. While a number of items in the final
declaration will be difficult to achieve at Copenhagen, it is worth
noting the very fact that these nations - underdeveloped and poor,
yet hard-hit by climate change - demonstrated leadership at this
critical time in the negotiating process. END COMMENT.

8. (U) Post has copies of statements by the Maldivian President
and the Climate Vulnerable Forum delegates and will forward them
upon request. Please contact ESTH officer Ken Kero-Mentz.


Declaration: Climate Vulnerable Forum -- Maldives

We, Heads of State, Ministers and representatives of Government from
Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific, representing some of the
countries most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change:

Alarmed at the pace of change to our Earth caused by human-induced
climate change, including accelerating melting and loss of ice from
Greenland, the Himalayas and Antarctica, acidification of the
world's oceans due to rising CO2 concentrations, increasingly
intense tropical cyclones, more damaging and intense drought and
floods, including Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods, in many regions and
higher levels of sea-level rise than estimated just a few years ago,
risks changing the face of the planet and threatening coastal
cities, low lying areas, mountainous regions and vulnerable
countries the world over,

Asserting that anthropogenic climate change poses an existential
threat to our nations, our cultures and to our way of life, and
thereby undermines the internationally-protected human rights of our
people - including the right to sustainable development, right to
life, the right to self-determination and the right of a people not
to be deprived of its own means of subsistence, as well as
principles of international law that oblige all states to ensure
that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause
damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the
limits of national jurisdiction;

Conscious that while our nations lie at the climate front-line and
will disproportionately feel the impacts of global warming, in the
end climate change will threaten the sustainable development and,
ultimately, the survival of all States and peoples - the fate of the
most vulnerable will be the fate of the world; and convinced that
our acute vulnerability not only allows us to perceive the threat of
climate change more clearly than others, but also provides us with
the clarity of vision to understand the steps that must be taken to
protect the Earth's climate system and the determination to see the
job done;

Recalling that the UNFCCC is the primary international,
intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to
climate change,

Desirous of building upon the commitment of leaders at the recent
United Nations High-Level Summit on Climate Change in New York in

addressing the needs of those countries most vulnerable to the
impacts of climate change as well as other political commitments,
including the AOSIS Declaration and the African Common Position,

Underlining the urgency of concluding an ambitious, fair and
effective global legal agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen.

Gravely concerned at reports of a downgrading of expectations for
COP15 and calling therefore for a redoubling of efforts - including
through the attendance in Copenhagen, at Head of State- or Head of
Government-level, of all States, and especially of major
industrialized nations and all major emerging economies.

Emphasizing that developed countries bear the overwhelming historic
responsibility for causing anthropogenic climate change and must
therefore take the lead in responding to the challenge across all
four building blocks of an enhanced international climate change
regime - namely mitigation, adaption, technology and finance - that
builds-upon the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.

Taking account of their historic responsibility as well as the need
to secure climate justice for the world's poorest and most
vulnerable communities, developed countries must commit to
legally-binding and ambitious emission reduction targets consistent
with limiting global average surface warming to well below 1.5
degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and long-term
stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at well
below 350ppm, and that to achieve this the agreement at COP15 UNFCCC
should include a goal of peaking global emissions by 2015 with a
sharp decline thereafter towards a global reduction of 85% by 2050,

Emphasizing that protecting the climate system is the common
responsibility of all humankind, that the Earth's climate system has
a limited capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions, and that
action is required by all countries on the basis of common but
differentiated responsibilities, respective capabilities, and the
precautionary principle,

Underscoring that maintaining carbon-intensive modes of production
established in 19th Century Europe will incur enormous social and
economic cost in the medium- and long-term, whereas shifting to a
carbon-neutral future based on green technology and low-carbon
energy creates wealth, jobs, new economic opportunities, and local
co-benefits in terms of health and reduced pollution,

Convinced that those countries which take the lead in embracing this
future will be the winners of the 21st Century;

Expressing our determination, as vulnerable States, to demonstrate
leadership on climate change by leading the world into the
low-carbon and ultimately carbon-neutral economy, but recognizing
that we cannot achieve this goal on our own;

Now therefore,

Declare our determination, as low-emitting countries that are
acutely vulnerable to climate change, to show moral leadership on
climate change through actions as well as words, by acting now to
commence greening our economies as our contribution towards
achieving carbon neutrality,

Affirm that this will enhance the objectives of achieving
sustainable development, reducing poverty and attaining the
internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium
Development Goals,

Call upon all other countries to follow the moral leadership shown
by the Republic of Maldives by voluntarily committing to achieving

Assert that the achievement of carbon neutrality by developing
countries will be extremely difficult given their lack of resources
and capacity and pressing adaptation challenges, without external
financial, technological and capability-building support from
developed countries,

Declare that, irrespective of the effectiveness of mitigation
actions, significant adverse changes in the global climate are now
inevitable and are already taking place, and thus Parties to the
UNFCCC must also include, in the COP15 outcome document, an
ambitious agreement on adaptation finance which should prioritise
the needs of the most vulnerable countries, especially in the

Call upon developed countries to provide public money amounting to
at least 1.5% of their gross domestic product, in addition to
innovative sources of finance, annually by 2015 to assist developing
countries make their transition to a climate resilient low-carbon
economy. This grant-based finance must be predictable, sustainable,
transparent, new and additional - on top of developed country
commitments to deliver 0.7% of their Gross National Income as
Overseas Development Assistance.
Underline that financing for mitigation and adaptation, under the
authority of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, should be on
the basis of direct access to implement country-led national
Low-Carbon Development Plans and Climate Resilient Development
Strategies, and the process to allocate and deliver the finance must
be accessible, transparent, consensual, accountable,
results-orientated and should prioritize the needs of the most
vulnerable countries.

Further underline that fundamental principles and issues relating to
the survival of peoples and preservation of sovereign rights are
non-negotiable, and should be embedded in the Copenhagen legal

Call on Parties to the UNFCCC to also consider and address the
health, human rights and security implications of climate change,
including the need to prepare communities for relocation, to protect
persons displaced across borders due to climate change-related
impacts, and the need to create a legal framework to protect the
human rights of those left stateless as a result of climate change.

Invite other vulnerable countries to endorse this Declaration.

Decide to hold a second meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum in
Kiribati on [date] to take forward this initiative, to further raise
awareness of the vulnerabilities and actions of vulnerable countries
to combat climate change, and to amplify their voice in
international negotiations. In this context, request support from
the UN system to assist the most vulnerable developing countries
take action in pursuit of this Declaration.



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