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Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the 5Cs, represented AOSIS as lead negotiator in reaffirming commitment to bold and urgent global climate action based on the best available science in the BBC’s ‘Triple Whammy’ threatens UN Action on Climate Change
A “triple whammy” of events threatens to hamper efforts to tackle climate change say UN delegates.
At a meeting in Bonn, Saudi Arabia has continued to object to a key IPCC scientific report that urges drastic cuts in carbon emissions.
Added to that, the EU has so far failed to agree to a long term net zero emissions target.
Thirdly, a draft text from the G20 summit in Japan later this week waters down commitments to tackle warming.
One attendee in Bonn said that, taken together, the moves represented a fierce backlash from countries with strong fossil fuel interests.
There was controversy last December at the Katowice COP24 meeting in Poland, when Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia objected to moves to welcome the findings of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C.
That study, regarded as a landmark, had two clear messages.
It showed that there were huge benefits in keeping temperature rises this century to 1.5C compared to a world that warmed 2C or more.
It also said that keeping the world below 1.5C was still possible, if drastic cuts in emissions were initiated by 2030.
To the frustration of a huge majority of countries, the objections of the four major fossil fuel producers, meant that the scientific report was not formally recognised in the negotiations.
The battle over the 1.5C report has carried over from Katowice to Bonn. Normally, this mid-year meeting is concerned with technical questions but this time the issue of the IPCC has re-emerged as a huge fault line between nations.
The Saudis are keen to highlight what are termed “knowledge gaps” in the IPCC report, that they believe hamper its ability to inform decision making at national or international level.
“We know that there are some hardliners that would try to downplay the seriousness and the actions that are required, that is their point of view,” said Carlos Fuller from Belize, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States.
“They recognise that they need to undertake major changes that they are not happy about.”
Many environmental campaigners see the Saudi pressure on the IPCC as part of campaign to discredit the science.
“The report shows the importance of striving towards 1.5C, that it is still achievable, and there is an incredible urgency to act vigorously and quickly,” said Dr Jeni Miller from the Global Climate and Health Alliance.
“This report was requested by the UN, by these countries themselves, so to not accept the findings of the report is a rejection of science, and if you are rejecting the science there is not a way forward to address this problem.”
While delegates seek to find a way forward on the science, there is growing concern about the European Union’s inability to reach consensus on cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Despite the late support of Germany in favour of the idea, four countries including Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Estonia, refused to support the plan last week.
This has caused some dismay among officials at the UN.
The Secretary General, António Guterres, has called a special summit on climate change to be held in New York in September with the express purpose of getting countries to increase their existing targets.
The EU’s proposed net zero goal was key to making this a success.
Mr Guterres has expressed his “personal concern” about the setback. Campaigners are also worried.
“The EU are very aware of the Secretary General’s summit, they are aware they are calling for a revision of targets, it would be embarrassing for the EU to go with what they just have now,” said Ulriikka Aarnio, from the Climate Action Network.
“Somebody said they would be going from leader to loser if that was the case.”
Contributing to the downbeat mood in Bonn is the forthcoming G20 meeting of global leaders in Osaka, Japan.
A draft of the closing communiqué mentions climate change as just one issue among many and omits to use the phrases “global warming” and “decarbonisation”.
Critics believe that Japan is trying hard to win favour with the US on trade issues by downplaying the scale of the climate question and possible solutions to it.
“The story, based on a draft of the communiqué, shows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a weak host and his G20 climate promises are full of hot air, undermining his previous claims that he seeks to save the planet.” said Kimiko Hirata, director of the Kiko Network Japan, a non-governmental organisation.
“Japan, alongside China, is the biggest financier of coal overseas in the world and the government continues to build new coal plants domestically despite our huge solar and wind power potential.”
As well as Japan, other leading economies are continuing to support coal based power generation. A study released by the Overseas Development Institutesays that G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies given to coal fired plants in recent years, despite the growing need to cut emissions.
CREDIT: BBC News
The following statement by Belize was delivered at a Ministerial Meeting of AOSIS during a short ceremony on the occasion of the 24th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to mark Belize’s acceptance of the chairmanship of AOSIS from the Maldives in January 2019. Belize will hold the chairmanship for two years to be followed by Antigua and Barbuda in 2021.
“Good evening distinguishing delegates, colleagues. I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Vice Minister of Belize who had to leave early because of another pressing engagement.
On this occasion I wish to extend sincere thanks to the Maldives for steering our group over the course of their Chairmanship, for their leadership and support. I extend congratulations from my Ministry and from the Government of Belize.
Colleagues of AOSIS, Belize accepts the first half of the incoming Chairmanship of AOSIS with a profound recognition of the challenges ahead. Acknowledging and building on the work put in by the Maldives over the past four years and that of the Republic of Nauru before that, and supported by all member nations, and relying on the sound expertise and innovative ideas of our collective body of experts. Belize intends to advance the work of AOSIS over the next two years, with a renewed focus on structure and support for member parties. Advancing the work to achieve the sustainable development goals will be a major focus over the next two years. Also of paramount importance is the unity of AOSIS which must be preserved.
Ahead of us lies a great challenge, predicated by the distraction of parties backing out of the Paris Agreement and others unwilling to accept the latest science of a world at 1.5 degrees. The best science of the latest IPCC report is sound and yes it is alarming, but all parties must respect and accept it, and seek common ground to come to terms with the implications of it.
As those among the most vulnerable and those already suffering the impacts, Belize and the Caribbean region stands ready to push ahead the work of AOSIS. We look forward to your continued support.
PRESS RELEASE – The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the High Level Support Mechanism (HLSM) hosted a regional meeting for climate change negotiators and ministers with responsibility for climate change from Wednesday 16th September, 2015 to Friday 18th September, 2015 in Saint Lucia.
The meeting, which was requested by Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, at the last meeting of CARICOM Heads in Barbados, had three objections:
Establish coherence among negotiators on the critical issues in the negotiations toward a new climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015;
Apprise of the areas of convergence and divergence in the ongoing climate change negotiations;
Prepare Ministers for a meeting of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in New York today, Thursday ,24th September, 2015. The meetings is taking place on the eve of the Post 2015 Development Agenda Summit.
Saint Lucia holds lead responsibility for climate change and sustainable development within CARICOM.
Credit: St. Lucia News Online (Edited)
The journalists and artistes, including Jamaica’s Aaron Silk, are complemented by participants from St Lucia’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science, and Technology – another partner in the workshop.
“The workshop is a prep meeting for Paris, pulling together a range of stakeholders, including popular artistes and journalists with the aim to come up with a strategy to bring attention to the small island position of ‘1.5 degrees to stay alive’,” said Indi Mclymont Lafayette, country coordinator and programme director with Panos.
“We really want to ensure that if an agreement is signed in Paris, it is one that won’t mean the death of small islands in the long run,” she added.
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), including CARICOM, have as far back as the Copenhagen Talks in 2009, called for a long-term goal to “limit global average temperatures to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to long-term stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations to well below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent”.
At the time, science adviser to AOSIS Dr Al Binger predicted that given sea-level rise, residents of small island states would eventually have to ‘swim for it’.
“We need to improve our boat-building art [and] teach our kids to swim because sooner or later, we are going to have to swim for it,” he said.
Speaking more recently at the French Embassy-hosted climate change debate in Kingston this year, physicist and head of the Climate Studies Group Mona, Dr Michael Taylor, painted a grim picture for a Caribbean in a world where average global temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees.
According to Taylor, the two degrees advanced by developed country partners may prove “too much for us to deal with”, given warmer days and nights and more variable rainfall, among other impacts,now being experienced.
Meanwhile, Mclymont Lafayette said the workshop – having educated artistes about climate change and journalists on reporting on it – would seek to craft a communication plan to bring a broader set of stakeholders up to date as to what is at stake for the region.
“We are looking at a strategy over the next few months of some of the things that could be done. [These include] the journalists to report on climate change; the artistes to use their performing platforms and media interviews to bring attention to the issues and the negotiators to work in tandem with them,” she said.
“It would be good if we could have an awareness campaign leading up to Paris and also while in Paris, have a side event that would really capture a lot of the issues and provide a gateway for hearing or having good discussions on the impacts on the islands,”Mclymont Lafayette added.
The workshop – done with co-financing from Climate Analytics, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre – forms a part of a larger Panos project for which they continue to fundraise.
That project aims promote civil society involvement in the discourse on climate change in the region, through, among other things, facilitating their participation in the upcoming Paris Talks.
Credit: Jamaica Gleaner
Caribbean Launches the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change.What does it mean for the Caribbean?
By Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE
The Caribbean’s response to Climate Change is grounded in a firm regional commitment, policy and strategy. Our three foundation documents – The Liliendaal Declaration (July 2009), The Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (July 2009) and its Implementation Plan (March 2012) – are the basis for climate action in the region.
The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the importance, scientific rigour and utility of these landmark documents. The IPCC’s latest assessment confirms the Caribbean Community’s long-standing call to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C as outlined in the Liliendaal Declaration. At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) Meeting in 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Caribbean Community indicated to the world community that a global temperature rise above 1.5°C would seriously affect the survival of the region.
In 2010 at the UNFCCC COP Meeting in Cancun, governments agreed that emissions ought to be kept at a level that would ensure global temperature increases can be limited to below 2°C. At that time, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which includes the Caribbean, re-iterated that any rise in temperature above 1.5°C would seriously affect their survival and compromise their development agenda. The United Nations Human Development Report (2008) and the State of the World Report (2009) of The Worldwatch Institute supports this position and have identified 2°C as the threshold above which irreversible and dangerous Climate Change will become unavoidable.
Accordingly, the Caribbean welcomes the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report prepared by over 2, 000 eminent scientists. It verifies observations in the Caribbean that temperatures are rising, extreme weather events are occurring more frequently, sea levels are rising, and there are more incidences of coral bleaching. These climatic changes will further exacerbate the limited availability of fresh water, agricultural productivity, result in more erosion and inundation, and increase the migration of fish from the Caribbean to cooler waters and more hospitable habitats. The cumulative effect is reduced food security, malnutrition, and productivity, thus increasing the challenges to achieving poverty reduction and socio-economic development.
The report notes that greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of Climate Change, continues to rise at an ever increasing rate. Unless this trend is arrested and rectified by 2050, global temperatures could rise by at least 4°C by 2100. This would be catastrophic for the Caribbean. However, the report is not all gloom and doom. More than half of the new energy plants for electricity are from renewable resources, a trend that must accelerate substantially if the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C by 2100 is to remain feasible.
The IPCC AR5 Report should therefore serve as a further wakeup call to our region that we cannot continue on a business as usual trajectory. It is an imperative that Climate Change be integrated in every aspect of the region’s development agenda, as well as its short, medium and long-term planning. The region must also continue to aggressively engage its partners at the bilateral and multilateral levels to reduce their emissions. The best form of adaptation is reducing emissions.
Inaction is simply too costly! The IPCC will adopt the Synthesis Report of the AR5 in Copenhagen, Denmark in late October 2014. Caribbean negotiators are already preparing to ensure that the most important information from the report is captured in the Synthesis Report.
Dr Kenrick Leslie is the Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the regional focal point for Climate Change.
Learn more about the implications of the IPCC AR5 Report by watching the live stream of the Caribbean Launch on today at 6pm (-4GMT) via caribbeanclimate.bz and track live tweets via #CaribbeanClimate.
This is a Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) supported event.