Pacific Media Watch

11 December 2015

COP21: Pacific negotiators dig in on 'red line' over key targets

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Minister of Climate Change in Vanuatu Jerome Ludvaune ... survival at stake. Image: SPREP

Samisoni Pareti, editor of Islands Business
PARIS (Islands Business/SPREP/Pacific Media Watch): On the eve of the conclusion in Paris of negotiations for a new global agreement on climate change, ministers of the Pacific are digging in on their red line positions of 1.5 degree target and a stand-alone loss and damage mechanism.

Aides to Pacific ministers who are leading the negotiations say the Pacific nations have not given up yet, although they do admit the pressure from bigger and wealthier countries have been “enormous’’.

So much so that Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry sought an urgent meeting with Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga at 1pm yesterday morning. No details have been released about the outcome of that meeting.

But it comes as the Pacific fought tooth and nail again last night for the inclusion of the below 1.5 degrees target and loss and damage mechanism in the Paris Agreement. Island countries are also objecting to the call by some countries for the re-definition of the "special circumstances of the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States.”

Another climate change adviser says it’s not over yet for the Pacific. Crunch time is today, he says, especially when COP21 President Laurent Fabius is due to release an updated draft of the text soon, reflecting the results of negotiations overnight.

“So far, the presidency has been hearing the positions of the small island developing states, and these are reflected in the draft text of the agreement,” this regional adviser says.

“The new draft due to be released any time now will show whether the Presidency is still listening.”

Scaled up
On climate financing, the adviser says the islands have put on the table their demands for a scaled up, adequate and more accessible form of funding, but it will be up to the COP presidency to decide whether these will be reflected in the text of the Paris Agreement.

In another development, Pacific states are saying today nothing has been formalised about their membership of the Coalition of High Ambition Nations.

Marshall Islands caretaker Foreign Minister Tony de Brum is the instigator of the new grouping whose membership includes Mexico, Norway, Germany and Gambia.

During COP21, membership of the coalition has swelled to include the United States, members of Least Developed Countries, members of G77 plus China, member states of the European Union and through the EU, the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific bloc of nations.

Through their membership of the LDC, G77 plus China and the ACP, all Pacific island states are members of the Coalition of High Ambition Nations.

A regional adviser on climate change says while their membership may not be formal, they have no objections since de Brum is pushing the islands’ position through the Coalition membership.

Draw a line
Earlier, At this level, the risks that climate change poses to the very survival of Vanuatu would be minimised, said Miniser Ludvaune.

“Vanuatu is still recovering from nation-wide suffering and devastation inflicted by severe category 5 Cyclone Pam, now exacerbated by the drought induced by the strongest ever El Nino event. Human lives, the lives of my people have been lost,” he said.

“We the leaders of the world must stop this crisis, drawing the line here in Paris. We wish we could prevent all further warming, so that further suffering is prevented. Lamentably, scientists tell us this is impossible, and further warming is inevitable. We do know that limiting warming to well-below 1.5 degree Celsius is still within our reach.”


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