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Marshall Islands Tells COP26, “now Is The Time!”

10 November 2021, COP26 Glasgow - “I’m speaking to you as a representative of a country under siege from the onslaught of climate change. The storm of climate catastrophe is gathering destructive power with every failed promise and missed targets.”

The Marshall Islands took center stage at COP26 in Glasgow, presenting a statement at the resumed High-Level sessions. Hon Bruce Bilimon, Minister of Health and Human Services, told world leaders that Glasgow at this moment is an opportunity to demonstrate bold and committed leadership.

“As atoll nations, the failure of others to do what is necessary to tackle climate change forces us to grapple with extreme challenges. We will never accept that climate change, which we did not cause, should be the basis for a loss of our sovereignty, our sovereign rights and our maritime boundaries,” said Minister Bilimon.

“We will preserve our nation and our culture against any and all challenges that we face.”

Minister Bilimon also called for an end to the worst offenders, saying coal and super pollutants must go. He added that fossil fuel subsidies must end as “we should not pay for our own destruction”.

Reinforcing the importance of partnerships and appropriate resources, the Marshallese Minister championed the need for a 50-50 split in mitigation and adaptation financing. In his comprehensive call for action, Minister Bilimon urged the G20, the world’s biggest economic block and primary emitter, to do more to secure a 1.5-degree world.

“G20 leaders, your countries make up 80% of global emissions, the world is watching, and we urgently call you to take action reflecting ambition in enhanced NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) and long-term strategies that align with the 1.5 pathways,” said Minister Bilimon.

“All nations must demonstrate their ambition for this by urgently updating their NDCs to ensure alignment to this 1.5 survival figure. In Paris we agreed that countries would be welcome to submit NDC at any time. Again, if there is ever a time in which we must act upon opportunity to increase ambition to demonstrate this commitment, it is now.”

Minister Bilimon told COP26 that resources are vital to ensuring a safe and secure future that leaves no one behind. He emphasised that the delivery of the USD 100 billion per year promised by developed countries is vital to reinforce trust. He stressed that as discussions are initiated on a post 2025 financial goal, these decisions and discussions must be based on an accurate assessment of needs, and science.

“The Paris Agreement Rulebook must be completed in a way that puts ambition and environmental integrity at its core, Article 6 is a critical tool for driving decarbonisation and has the potential to provide a predictable funding stream for adaptation, but the wrong system will set us further back than we can afford,” said Minister Bilimon.

Urging fellow Parties to the UNFCCC to honour and respect their obligations to future generations, the Marshall Islands Minister, called for the involvement of youth in the self-determined decisions that will shape their future highlighting that the climate crisis will affect us all, but that some remain excluded from these decisions.

“It is clear that ambition this year is not limited to one element of the Paris Agreement but rather on a package of outcomes on mitigation, adaptation, and finance,” said Minister Bilimon.

“The demands here at Glasgow are highly ambitious and difficult nevertheless let us meet them together for the sake of our collective future and for the sake of humanity.”

Minister Bilimon presented at the resumed High-Level segment at COP26 on Tuesday 9 November 20210. His complete statement is available from the 2:25 minute marker via: https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/resumed-high-level-segment.

The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is held in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021.

Higher ambition needed for COP26 to secure1.5C goal

10 November 2021, COP26, Glasgow – Headline grabbing announcements in the first week of COP26 was given a reality check this week. The Climate Action Tracker released a landmark assessment showing that with all pledges, including those made in Glasgow, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be around twice as high as necessary to prevent breaching the1.5C temperature limit.

Just days before COP26 closes, vulnerable countries continue to fight to secure the promise of the Paris Agreement.

“Failure is perhaps accepting that there isn’t a future for my country. It’s not acceptable,” said Tina Stege, Climate Change Envoy of the Marshall Islands.

“We will continue to work to make sure that this COP puts in place what needs to be there to keep the door open for 1.5,” added Stege.

The Climate Action Tracker has provided an analysis that tracks government climate action on a regular basis since 2009. It measures climate action against the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of holding warming well below 2 degrees, pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

The independent scientific analysis is a collaboration between Climate Analytics and New Climate Institute. Climate Analytics has been working closely with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in the Pacific region on the IMPACT Project since 2016.

The latest update released in Glasgow on 9 November shows that stalled momentum from leaders and governments on their short-term targets has narrowed the 2030 emissions gap by only 15 – 17% over the last year.

With the 2030 pledges alone, without longer term targets, global temperature increase will be at 2.4 degrees in 2100.

“The vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with net zero goals: there’s a nearly one-degree gap between government current policies and their net zero goals,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner organisation.

“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action. Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.”

Despite the call for ambitions targets and commitments from Parties to the Paris Agreement to be outlined in their updated NDC, several have resubmitted the same target as in 2015. Some have submitted even less ambitious targets, and other have not made new submissions at all.

Governments are called to focus on closing the credibility gap in the final days of COP26. To do so they need to increase their 2030 mitigation ambition and close the finance gap which is crucial for developing countries to reduce their emissions to 1.5-degree levels.

The Climate Action Tracker highlighted coal and gas as the key drivers of this bleak outlook.

“We can’t just have promises of what we are going to do we actually have to have actions to back them up for example as we have outlined in our High Ambition Coalition Statement, policies on phasing out coal, policies on methane, ending of fossil fuel subsidies - these are the concrete action which need to happen now,” said Stege.

Days away from COP26 ending, the Pacific may need to look to COP27 and then every year thereafter to reach 1.5-degrees, instead of waiting another five years.

“If the massive 2030 gap cannot be narrowed in Glasgow, governments must agree to come back next year, by COP27, with new and stronger targets. Today’s leaders need to be held to account for this massive 2030 gap. If we wait another five years and only discuss 2035 commitments, the 1.5°C limit may well be lost,” said Prof. Niklas Höhne, of New Climate Institute, the other CAT partner organisation.

This was echoed by the Marshall Islands, for whom a 1.5-degree world is a question of survival.

“We have to come back to make sure that Nationally Determined Contributions are aligned with 1.5 and if they are not aligned now, and it’s clear that they are not, we have to have something in place that gets us back to the table until those targets are delivered,” said Stege.

Released on 9 November 2021, further information on the press conferences and the CAT update can be found via the links below. The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.

To view the press conference with Climate Action Tracker: https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/climate-analytics

To view the press conference with the Marshall Islands: https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/republic-of-marshall-islands

To find out more on the CAT report: https://climateactiontracker.org/press/Glasgows-one-degree-2030-credibility-gap-net-zeros-lip-service-to-climate-action/

Pacific Small Islands Developing States take the floor at COP26

10 November 2021, COP26, Glasgow - The 1.5C limit is non-negotiable for the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). In the face of adversity with the Climate Action Tracker report released at COP26 this week, as well as very small numbers within the Pacific delegation, the island region has ramped up its call upon the world to honour their promise of the Paris Agreement.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the Pacific islands delegation has shrunk considerably in number at COP26 in comparison to past COPs. Yet still the region perseveres in the hope that big polluters will demonstrate leadership at COP26 for all humanity.

With climate change being the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific islands people, the Pacific SIDS have asked the G20 to lead by example.

“We urge all nations to uphold the Paris Agreement, the thread that binds us together. We must accept the critical importance of reaching net-zero as soon as possible, no later than 2050. We must adapt to protect our people, environment and natural resources,” presented Hon. Bruce Billimon, Minister of Health and Human Services for the Marshall Islands as presented the statement on behalf of the PSIDS as the high-level resumed at COP26.

“We need more ambition on climate mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and climate finance. We need to raise the level of ambition in Nationally Determined Contributions, and those yet to submit NDCs must do so without further delay – and ensure that they’re aligned with a pathway of 1.5C.”

The Pacific islands region has been consistent in its call for fossil fuel subsidies to be phased out and redirected coal use to end. The need for increased funding for mitigation and adaptation is vitally needed to keep the 1.5-degree in reach, and while the Pacific welcomes recent climate finance announcements the promised USD 100 billion per annum is long overdue.

In 2015 at COP21, the Paris Agreement signaled an era of hope for all of humanity as the world came together to do as much as possible to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. During week two of COP26 much of this hope has dwindled as countries have not done enough to meet their obligations.

“The increase of natural disasters we see today will only get worse unless we commit to real action. Past responses have been fragmented and slow. We cannot afford further erosion of trust. The pace must change. COP26 is an opportunity to demonstrate our common humanity,” presented Minister Billimon.

“Let us take urgent decisions to address all the outstanding matters before us. Let us make COP 26 a turning point in our collective efforts to raise the level of ambition and save our planet for future generations, and to avoid a climate catastrophe in our children’s lifetime.”

The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties is held in Glasgow, having started on 31 October it is scheduled to end on 12 November, yet negotiations may go beyond this. The Pacific Small Islands Developing States with the Alliance of Small Islands States have stated very clearly what is needed for their survival and will persevere in their calls for this.

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