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Draft outcomes fall short of AOSIS expectations

Draft outcomes fall short of AOSIS expectations

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico

09 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN --- A day before the conclusion of the global climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, there is still no clarity on major issues pushed forward by Pacific Island Countries and their small island counterparts in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.

Chief among them is the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal to stay alive, the position that the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has been lobbying for two years since the Conference of the Parties in Poznan in Poland.

The draft outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) released Wednesday still has 1.5 degrees bracketed with other options of and 1 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Any hope of inscribing the 1.5 goal looks increasingly dim as the United States leads the attack to stay with the below 2 degrees subscribed to in the Copenhagen Accord.

“I think the 2 degree goal is important. We try and guide our actions by what science is telling us. 2 degrees is sometimes looked at as talismanic but we follow what science is telling us."

“As we move forward, science might tell us that 2 degrees is too high or that 1.5 degrees is okay but for now the 2 degrees is a good goal to be in the agreement", said Todd Stern, the United States climate change special envoy.

But the proviso in the proposed draft is the period of the review of the increase in global temperature.

“I think we built into the Copenhagen Accord a provision for a review period in this agreement to take a look at how the world is doing. Our view is that the best way to proceed is for a review period, which should be linked to the science", said Stern

The draft outcome has endorsed a review period to take into account the best available scientific knowledge, observed impacts of climate change and to consider strengthening the long term goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The first review starts in 2013 and is expected to conclude by 2015.

On loss and damage, the draft outcome requests AWG-LCA to consider a mechanism to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

This language is weaker than what AOSIS was asking for. The small island developing states (SIDS) wanted a mechanism established to take into account a disaster risk component, insurance and compensation funds to help SIDS manage the financial and economic risks arising from climate impacts. The mechanism should also assist in rapid recovery and rehabilitation from climate related extreme weather events and also address unavoidable damage and loss associated with adverse effects of climate change.

The draft outcome has recommended that a decision be taken at the next Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa in 2011.

A push for a new Green fund, proposed in the Copenhagen Accord, has found its way into the draft LCA outcome text.

Negotiators are yet to work out a name for the new fund and decide whether it will be established as a financial mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Samoa is keen to have the funds up and running, with representation on the Governing Board from SIDS.

“SIDS challenges and priorities are not identical to those of other negotiating groups both in focus, relative sizes and magnitude. It is critically important that SIDS has a voice in the transitional group to set up the Climate Fund, and in its Governing Board once its final architecture is in place", said Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, while addressing the High Level Segment of the negotiations.

PM Tuilaepa said the new Fund should be tailored to meet the needs of SIDS.

“Key to SIDS utilizing these resources is the ability to effectively access and manage them. In the absence of such modalities, any climate funding, old or new will be a disincentive and not a solution to the adaptation needs of the very group of vulnerable countries the fund was meant to address in the first place", said PM Tuilaepa.

Another element of the Copenhagen Accord now included in the proposed formal outcome is the fast start finance. There is general consensus that the US$30 billion committed for 2010-2012 must be equally shared between adaptation and mitigation and that the needs of most vulnerable developing states, such as the least developed countries and SIDS are prioritised.

At the end of 2010, most of the countries in the priority list have not received anything.

“It’s now a year after Copenhagen, and we still have not received any of the promised money", said President Anote Tong

Similarly, the same sentiments from Leaders of Nauru, Samoa, Palau, who attended the High Level Segment session here in Cancun.

One of the leading civil society organisations following the negotiations, Oxfam said a commitment to ensure that at least 50 percent of climate funding is dedicated to adaptation is missing.

"The delivery of adaptation finance to vulnerable communities already affected by climate change has been neglected so far. The new Climate Fund must close the adaptation gap to address this so that communities can protect themselves against the climate impacts of today and tomorrow," said Tim Gore, Oxfam’s international climate change advisor.

According Climate Action Network International (CAN), a group of influential civil society organisations around the world that at the end of 2010, an estimated 80 percent of the fast start finance had been allocated to mitigation and almost 10 percent was disbursed for adaptation purposed.

“This clearly shows that adaptation is the poor cousin of mitigation,” said CAN’s publication ECO.

Funding projects that have been approved for the Pacific and other Small Island Developing States have concentrated on renewable energy and energy efficiency, which accounts for the mitigation funds from the fast start finance. Denmark is the latest fast start finance donor to commit US$14.5 million for renewable energy projects in AOSIS nations.

The role of loans needs far greater clarity in the fast start finance.

“We know that a large proportion of the financing is being channelled as loans – 52 percent in the case of the European Union, for example", said ECO.

“That’s bad enough, countries should not have to get into debt to adapt to change that they didn’t cause."

On long term finance, the draft text endorsed that a scaled up, new and additional and predictable funding be made available to developing countries. Rich and industrialised countries will jointly mobilise US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help countries adapt to and mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

But there is strong push that developing nations (or Annex II) are roped into contributing to the long term finance pool.

This push by the rich nations has been reflected as an option in the draft outcome.

“Annex II countries shall provide 1.5 percent of their gross domestic product per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries", said the draft text.

To advance this agenda, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon convened a distinguished group of eminent personalities to develop the thinking further. The group, led by Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway have concluded that US$100 billion annually will be challenging but feasible.

Hours before the close of the climate talks, the UN’s climate chief, Christina Figueres remained optimistic that Cancun will deliver a balanced outcome.

“I see Parties continuing to work hard together to deliver a successful, balanced outcome that must be the next significant step in the world’s long road towards a full solution to the climate challenge."

Under the common umbrella of the United Nations, where every country has a voice, the Mexican Presidency of the UN climate change conference has set up a transparent, fully inclusive process. All countries are free to decide to participate and to join in finding the essential middle ground that will deliver success.

“I see a willingness of Parties to move positions. I see active and open exchange in the ministerial consultations, including how to reach political conciliation on anchoring mitigation proposals that have been made in 2010, clarity on the Kyoto Protocol, establishment of a fund for long-term finance, and decisions to implement action on forests, technology transfer and adaptation."

"But more needs to be done. I call on all sides to redouble their efforts and use creative ways to reach solutions, to travel the last mile to a successful outcome,” said Figueres

Italy and Pacific unveil development finance model

Stanley Simpson, Climate Pasifika 9 December Cancun Mexico - The government of Italy and Pacific island countries today unveiled a model for international cooperation they say can generate action on the ground at remarkable speed and is an example of what to do in practice to address the threat of climate change.

Further – they say the project ensures ownership to communities most affected by the negative effects of climate change.

The partnership between Italy and 14 Pacific island countries is in the area of renewable energy projects with some pioneering, dynamic and groundbreaking projects being undertaken across the region.

It started with a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007, and was further strengthened in 2008 when the government of Austria and the Municipality of Milan in Italy also joined and contributed to the partnership.

Italy’s Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Stefania Prestigiacomo revealed today that more than 20 renewable energy projects have been designed and implemented in the 14 countries.

“These projects are contributing to assess the islands vulnerability to long term climate change effects to implement adaptation measures to strengthen the island energy infrastructure through the development of the local renewable energy potential,” she said. “It also ensures increased access to energy services of the islands population particularly for the remote rural communities."

Prestigiacomo stressed that the projects are designed at local scale and are strictly based on islands priorities and specific needs.

Nauru MP, the Hon. Dominic Tabuna in response said Italy and the Pacific have pioneered a unique development system model that delivers tangible results on the ground in a fraction of time. He outlined several reasons for the success of the model:

1. It works because it relies on streamlined vetting and approval process conducted directly by the donors and the recipients. This arrangement avoids unnecessary bottlenecks encountered under other models – where multiple layers of review – often by third parties – delay the commencement of critical projects

2. It works because it establishes clear funding priorities – in this case – renewable energy – giving clear guidance to project planners while also facilitating the review and approval process

3. It works because it operates out of New York at the United Nations. Tabuna says the Pacific challenge has always been its geographical remoteness which makes international coordination very difficult. Only in New York does the Pacific have the permanent presence of 11 Pacific island countries.

“The programme has been a wonderful success. We think it provides an alternative to multi-layered models and could provide a valuable model for the delivery of climate change finance,” says Tabuna.

He stated his belief that this was the single most effective funding model for the Pacific.

“It is responsive to the challenges we currently face in the Pacific. The model has the potential to usher in a new era of development assistance based on mutual trust and cooperation."

Pacific voices touch Cancun

Stanley Simpson, Climate Pasifika, 9 December Cancun Mexico - The songs, dance and stories of Pacific island people today touched many in Cancun, Mexico – bringing a 'real'and emotional element to global climate change talks.

Many people in the audience at the Jaguar room in Cancunmesse shed silent tears at the struggle for survival being waged in the islands, but were also entertained through song and dance – portraying the vibrant cultures and identities of the Pacific that are now under threat.

Speakers and performers were from Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands and Fiji.

"We love our traditional dance,” Kiribati’s Marie Tiimon told those gathered. “We are not just entertaining you today but also trying to tell you that these are the cultures that will be lost if nothing is done about climate change.”

“These cultures have been passed down from generation to generation.”

Through their different voices and performances the Pacific island representatives provided a powerful expression of the faces, sounds, and images of climate change – as well as the efforts of courageous, happy and committed people to hold on to their homeland and identity.

“We are not sitting back,” says Claire of Kiribati. “Climate change is a life and death issue for us.”

Luana from the Cook Islands danced a traditional dance signifying “We three” – Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia.

“We are all in the same boat of climate change,” she said.

Despite the singing and dancing there was no mistaking the urgency of the situation and the heart-wrenching plea of the people and children of the islands to save their future.
Taukiei Kitana of Tuvalu presented ‘A sinking feeling’ and impressed how smaller Pacific islands were the most vulnerable of the vulnerable to climate change.

“We don’t have to relocate if we do something now,” he urged

Tiimon echoed his words saying: “We love our islands – we don’t want to move out.”

Tati from the Kiribati Ministry of Environment added: “Our ancestors shed their blood fighting for our land. We cant afford to lose our land to climate change.”
“Most of our people are fearful and afraid of losing our lands.”

It was a creative, engaging and powerful presentation of the climate change situation in the Pacific and an expression of the Pacific peoples commitment to fight one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Leaders of Samoa, Nauru and Kiribati tell their stories and seek political leadership on climate change
Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika
09 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN --- Samoan Prime Minister did not mince his words when he told the international community ‘we need your technology but don’t use the islands as a testing ground.’

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was part of a high level panel of world leaders that’s simultaneously trying to find solutions to reach an acceptable outcome here in Cancun that will reverse the climate crisis.

“Technology must be appropriate and affordable for us in the islands. We should not be used as a dumping ground for obsolete technology, said the Samoan Prime

Minister. To benefit from these technologies, we cannot do it alone but need the partnership of the private ector and the multilateral donors, he added.

Also on the panel were the Presidents of Kiribati and Nauru, who spoke from the heart and reminded the international community of their obligations to ensure their nations remain on the face of the earth.

“I have been asked several times in parliament about resources to build sea walls to protect the outer islands from rising sea level. My replies have been yes, we have done the studies and the costs involved but we have no resources."

“It’s now a year after Copenhagen, and we still have not received any o f the promised money", said President Tong.

The Kiribati leader, who is a well known advocate for vulnerable states said the situation is so grim for Kiribati that, ‘as a nation, we might not even be part of these negotiations in the next decade.’

He suggested to the chair of the dialogue, the President of Mexico, the need for world leaders to intervene and rescue the negotiations.

“I don’t know whether it’s too late in the process now but the climate change negotiations need a political and humanitarian decision. I don’t know whether we need to convince the negotiators but, we as Leaders need to sit down and make decisions on issued that negotiators cannot resolve", said President Tong.

Kiribati did not support the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 but recently associated itself with the Accord to access the fast start finance package that accompanied the Accord.

Similarly, President Marcus Stephen of Nauru, with few words expressed the gravity of the effects of climate change on his home island

“Our priority is survival before financing, Financing is perfect for us to adapt to the changes that we are seeing but survival is our immediate need."

President Nauru was responding to the comments by the President Felipe Calderon who said that ‘perfect may be the enemy of the good.’

He rejected any notion that the small island nations were trying to ‘derail’ the negotiations but merely putting their case for the world to see.

“1.5 degree Celsius is what the science is saying and we cannot ignore that", said President Stephen.

Pacific Island nations, together with other small island developing states in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean have lobbied for global temperatures be limited to well below 1.5 degree Celsius and concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stabilise at around 350 parts per million. The group of 43 nations also want global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to peak by 2015 and decline thereafter. They also want Annex 1 parties to the UN Climate Convention (rich and industrialised nations) to reduce their GHG emissions by more than 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and more than 95 percent by 2050, given their historical responsibility.


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