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Pacific leads, and COP25 ‘too hard basket’ forms COP 26 agenda



Madrid,  Spain – December 10, 2019: 11am (PEJN): Formal statements from pacific leaders at the COP 25 climate talks have nailed the need for urgency and action, but there was also a hint that COP 26 may be the one to deliver what this meeting is unlikely to achieve.

In his speech, Fiji’s Prime MInister and former COP President Frank Bainimarama and other leaders have raised the contentious Article 6 which forms the blueprint for effective action on the Paris Agreement. He wasted no time reminding the world the waiting game must stop.

“While our climate change projects have to be science-driven and evidence-based in order to be approved, certain actors are happy to pay lip service and not meet the demands that well-established science has revealed. Worse still, others have put on blinders, and are denying the very existence of an immense wealth of information and science,” he said in his speech to plenary today at the COP round of national statements.

The Fiji leader urged the COP to seek out new and innovative ways to address loss and damage, and plugged the call from Pacific nations for the set up of a new financing window within the Green Climate Fund.

“We must ensure we reach the $100 billion-dollar climate finance goal by 2020, and we must begin work on setting a new collective goal for climate finance for 2025 and beyond…for the survival of PSIDS, and for the world, we must set a stage not of ignorance and denial –– but of ambition –– for COP26,” he ended.

Hints the ongoing struggles for consensus and clarity with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement would spill over into COP 26 have been growing louder from negotiators, but many are still holding out for hope, saying a COP that doesn’t deliver on Article 6 would be a failure. Other aspects of the negotiations around Loss and Damage, Market Mechanisms and carbon trading remain controversial, but negotiators are choosing to remain hopeful.

Earlier, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair Hoesung Lee had spoken of the   complexities of taking climate action, involving the need to address the consequences of action as well as its processes.

“We appreciate the challenge you face as a catalyst for the unprecedented change the world

will need, “ he said, “please tell us what you need from us, and we, the scientific community, will work with you to mend the disconnect between the scientific understanding of climate change and the realities of climate action.”

Meanwhile other Pacific leaders continued to lead with messages of action, hope and pressure on the global community to do the right thing by those bearing the brunt of changes in climate.

Tonga’s prime minister Dr Pohiva Tu’ionetoa pointed to the Kingdom’snumber two ranking in a 2016 World Risk Report listing countries most at risk to all disasters.

“In Tonga, we continue to experience record rates of coastal erosion, overflow and flash flooding. These are further compounded by the rising in sea-level, three times higher, than the global average, and tropical cyclones that are increasing in intensity, and at a rate that undermines our capacity to respond to, and recover from. Tropical Cyclone Gita which hit Tonga, in February 2018, is a strong testament to this increase,” Prime Minister Tu’i’ionetoa said.

Like other Pacific nations, Tonga’s committed to the drastic national action required to ensure it achieves cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, known as Nationally determined commitments, (NDCs). For Tonga that means achieving its NDC targets of 50% renewable energy by 2020, 70% by 2030 and 100% by 2035 and doubling the number of its Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Fiji is host of a regional Pacific NDC hub to ensure member nations step onboard the path to clean and renewable futures.

 “The world must adjust course to avert catastrophe. We must align our NDCs to common, five-year timeframes, and we must agree on the governance modalities, procedures, and guidelines for carbon markets under Article 6 without delay,” Fiji’s Prime Minister had said of the NDCs.

Delivering New Zealand’s national statement, Climate Minister James Shaw says his country is standing with the Pacific, as those most at risk from climate change and with the least resources to adapt.  Most of New Zealand’s $300m of climate funding to 2022 will be provided to Pacific nations, he said.

“The Paris Agreement’s commitment to seek to limit global temperature increases to 1.5˚C is of utmost importance to all nations, but for many of our Pacific neighbours its importance is existential,” Shaw stated, “Like any family we have a responsibility to look out for one another.”

Outside of the plenary speeches, Pacific events at the NZ and Fiji-funded Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion have drawn large crowds, and Pacific speakers are featuring as guest speakers providing their insights to other panel discussions  across the venue.

Their efforts and leadership, including major youth presence across all Pacific spaces at the COP 25, are aimed at ensuring the world gets the message on drastic action to keep the promise of Paris.

But with science backing the islands longtime 1.5 call, and predicting global warming is already on track to top 3 degrees by 2052,  the negotiations over text need to be seen from the perspective of human survival, said one COP veteran.

“In terms of what we can get across the line by Friday …we can only go into those with a positive outlook and try and find the compromises that work for us, not against us.”

  • Our Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN)s independant reporting from COP25 has been made possible with travel support from a multi-stakeholder project helping Pacific nations achieve their 1.5 climate ambition to save the Oceans, and the planet. Want to know more about what your nation is doing to walk the climate talk? Google  #PacificNDCHub or email the Senior Technical Adviser, Regional Pacific NDC Hub via christine.fung@giz.de

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