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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

protestors

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.

Climate meeting
Image captionDuring intense discussions about the IPCC, some delegates sat on the floor

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.”

climate protestors
Image captionClimate protestors have sought to bring their message to major events including a speech at the Mansion House by Chancellor Philip Hammond

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.

Japan climate
Image captionJapan is said to be keen to curry favour with the US by downplaying climate issues at the upcoming G20 in Osaka

“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

CARICOM Champions Science at COP 24 – Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator

The Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were among a large group of countries at COP 24 insisting that the global response to climate change be driven by science.

During 2018 the CARICOM Member States tried to include the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C as an agenda item at COP 24. However, they were unable to do so. At COP 24 they used two approaches to highlight the importance of the Special Report to the process. In the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) under the agenda item on Research and Systematic Observations (RSO), they proposed a paragraph welcoming the Special Report. Led by Ms Cheryl Jeffers of St Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the group also tried to insert paragraphs highlighting key messages from the 2018 State of the Climate presented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the work of a Task Force of Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Although these were supported by most of the countries present, including the African Group, the Least Developed Countries Group (LDCs), the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) and the European Union (EU), it was opposed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the United States. As a result, when the SBSTA session ended, there were no agreed conclusions on this issue and discussions will resume at the next session in May 2019.

Undeterred, CARICOM continued to press the case the following week and were able to get reference to the IPCC Special Report in the main COP decision. It invited countries to consider the information contained in the report when they addressed relevant issues. In addition, SBSTA will discuss the contents of the report in May. IPCC assessments and reports will also be used to inform the global stocktake to be undertaken in 2023 to assess the implementation of the Paris Agreement and inform subsequent countries nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

In the decision adopting the Paris Agreement in 2015, the IPCC was requested to prepare this special report. Leonard Nurse, UWI (Barbados); Felicia Whyte, Kimberly Stephenson, Tannecia Stephenson and Michael Taylor, UWI (Jamaica); and Adelle Thomas of the University of the Bahamas contributed to the preparation of the report. During 2018 as the report was circulated for comments, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with support from Climate Analytics and Charles and Associates organized regional workshops with CARICOM national IPCC and UNFCCC Focal Points to review the report and provide comments on its contents.

The IPCC will produce two additional special reports in 2019, and CARICOM scientists will once again play an important role in their preparation. Adrian Spence, International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (Jamaica); Kenel Delusca, Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies of Haiti; and Noureddin Benkeblia and Donovan Campbell, UWI (Jamaica) will be contributing authors to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. For the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere on a Changing Climate, Michael Sutherland, UWI (Trinidad and Tobago) has been selected to assist in preparing the report.

ACP/EU Working Lunch Convened at COP 24

Photo Credit: Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer represented the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre at a working lunch of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Island (ACP) States and the European Union (EU) today in Katowice, Poland, the venue of COP 24.  In his opening statement Commissioner Antonio Arias Canete noted that the European Community was the largest donor to climate finance and would continue to do so referencing their latest pledges to the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. They were committed to meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement and would begin working on their long-term strategy towards carbon neutrality by 2050.

CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General Dr Douglas Slater expressed the Caribbean’s appreciation to the support provided by the EU to the region in the areas of development, disaster relief and climate change. He thanked the EU for its solidarity with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in welcoming the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and for a strong outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue including a COP decision calling on Parties to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. These sentiments were also expressed by Minister Stiell of Grenada who also highlighted the need for the inclusion in the outcome of Loss and Damage and Finance in response to the IPCC Report. The Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations echoed these sentiments and called for increased support to the region for technology transfer and capacity building.

The representative of Poland informed the meeting that the COP Presidency had now taken over the drafting of the language for the outcomes of the COP. Ministerial consultations had ended. A new clean text would be issued later today and would be debated in a Vienna style setting.

In his closing remarks, Commissioner Canete emphasized that climate change would be the cornerstone of the new ACP/EU partnership programme. He noted that the combined membership of ACP and EU States was more than half of the UN seats. Working together the group could produce great results.

The region was represented by Belize, Jamaica, and the Commission of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

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