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Developing country leaders call for urgency of action and comprehensive 2015 agreement

Lima, 11 December (Hilary Chiew) – Developing country leaders made strong calls for a comprehensive 2015 agreement based on the principles of common but differentiated responsbilities and equity at the Lima climate talks.

The joint high-level segment of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP20) and the 10th COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP10) is taking place on 9 to 11 December.

Country groupings and several national statements were preceded by an opening ceremony on 9 December morning which heard the welcoming speeches by the COP President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and UNFCCC’s executive secretary Christiana Figueres and opening remarks from the President of the United Nations General Assembly Sam Kutesa (Uganda) and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon (South Korea).

The joint high-level segment will conclude today (11 December). In addition to the national and group statements, a Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance was held on 9 December and a High-level Ministerial Dialogue on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action on 10 December. (Separate reports will be available on these two events.)

Representing the Group of 77 and China, President Evo Morales of Bolivia reminded the audience that developing countries are the least responsible for climate change but still are the ones that suffered most from the adverse effects of climate change and frequencies of disasters that threatened the survival of these countries. He affirmed that the UNFCCC is the intergovernmental forum when it comes to negotiation on climate change. Therefore, international response to climate change must respect fully the principles and provisions of the Convention in particular the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

He said the 2015 agreement must include all elements of the convention including adaptation, provision of finance and technology transfers as a holistic vision of climate change.

Continuing his speech in speaking for Bolivia, President Morales delivered an impassioned statement on the ills of capitalism that have resulted in climate change and the failure of developed countries to fulfil their commitments under the Convention. He made a strong call for no deception and manipulation to reach an agreement.

He pleaded for agreement that is based on preservation of Mother Earth and not based on earnings of the markets and capitalism. He said great civilisations took place in Latin America with a great deal of wisdom that leaves us with great legacy and we should try to orientate our decisions, taking into account the wisdom of our indigenous peoples. With the philosophy and wisdom of the indigenous peoples’ civilisation, he said, let us create an anti-colonialism perspective.

Morales said we can spend days and nights holding discussion but let us not “manipulate, deceive or confuse things” to reach an agreement and urged Parties to speak transparently.

He said the new agreement must be developed based on three principles: not being a thief, liar and not being lazy.

Illustrating his point about not being a thief, he referred to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which concluded that if we do not want a temperature increase of more than 2C then we cannot emit more than 1,000 Gigatonnes of greenhouse gas by 2050 and if we do not want it to rise beyond 1.5C, the quantity had to be even smaller at 630Gt.

He said the atmospheric space has to be shared based on the principle of equity but there are some countries that want to consume all of this space on their own. These countries, he added, had stolen from us during the colonial period and are still stealing the future of our children and grand children, the possibility of developing in a sustainable fashion and giving a better life to the people.

He emphasised that the current production and consumption patterns are committing ecocide on Mother Earth and the people cannot live well if we continue with this same pattern of capitalism that favours a few. He reminded Parties that we are here to achieve a climate agreement for life and not for business and capitalists.

Stressing his point about not being a liar, Morales said those Parties cannot continue to say one thing but doing something else as this will not guarantee our future. He said they only think about business and we cannot allow powers that are interested in capital and not in lives that condemn humankind and Mother Earth to death.

On not being lazy, he turned on developed countries that do not want to increase their ambitions, let alone implement their commitments when it comes to adaptation, dispersion of finance, technology transfer and capacity-building. He also noted that some countries are promoting a new climate agreement where all the efforts are voluntary, condemning humankind to temperature rise that could exceed 4C. He said despite the apocalyptic forecast of the impacts of climate change, there are countries that do not want to take the opportunity to reduce emission and do not want to do anything to support developing countries in tackling climate change. He appealed to Parties not to destroy the atmosphere and the rights especially of the poorest to live.

“Let’s not lie and deceive each other. Let us make ambitious commitments to save the integrity of Mother Earth by incorporating all the elements including mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology transfer and capacity-building (into the new agreement),’’ he said.

Morales pointed out that the world has failed as a whole in seeking a substantive agreement for the last 30 years and we find ourselves destroying Mother Earth. He said the developed countries in the north which are mostly responsible for the destruction of nature have led us to a place where they are not prepared to commit to protect humankind, continuing to do what they had been doing for years through dialogues and negotiations but when it comes to securing the future of humankind, it is a monologue that has failed.

‘We’d been moved like pawns in a game while our experts have travelled the world over to find reasonable response from those that decide the course of history. Now we have to say nothing has changed in the last 30 years except the interests of capital,” he said, adding that we would nevertheless, continue to hear more speeches that said we have made some progress and there is hope for the future.

He pointed out that only one-fifth of the military budget of the developed world could have solved our environmental problems.

He said further the ecological systems that sustain our financial architecture has at its core, the free market policies that are only interested in profit and consumption and this capitalist objective is the opening of global market with endless free trade agreements that turn men and women into objects and Mother Earth into commodities.

He said capitalism would kill people for profit if it has to as their gods are money and profits, adding that we need to halt this trend and we need another civilisation that satisfies human needs, which uses science and technologies that produce useful things that help us to live well. He asserted that the environment is the common heritage of the people in the past and the future and if someone is profiting from the environment, then they are stealing from all of us.

Speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), President Baron Divavesi Waqa of Nauru said the facts were so compelling even in those early days that it seems a matter of common sense that those Parties with the greatest capabilities to implement solutions will take the lead to combat climate change. He reminisced that those were the days where global cooperation was to advance and not to hinder global efforts.

Pointing out that this is only his second climate change conference since his election as President (of Nauru), he recalled typhoon Haiyan which narrowly spared the low-lying islands of the Pacific before unleashing its full force on the Philippines and (this year) upon arriving Lima, he read the news about yet another harrowing typhoon event in the Philippines.

“One would think that the image of a mother searching for her missing child in the flood would be a stark reminder (to act) but yet we do forget and pushed thought that is too much to bear out of our minds,” he said, adding that humans tend to put off hard decisions till another day.

He said all in all, science tells us that we have five years for emissions to peak and to avoid total inundation of some Pacific islands, he asked if now is not the time to address climate change then when is (the time). The past decades, he added, have affirmed that we are capable of inflicting harm but it is not too late to be good stewards of land, sea, atmosphere and for each other. He stressed that responsible stewardship in the age of climate change is to lead by example. He said having ratified the second commitment period (CP2) of the Kyoto Protocol (KP), small island developing states (SIDS) have committed to some of the most ambitious emission reduction.

To give the most vulnerable countries a fighting chance, emissions must come down immediately, and he would like to see near-term reduction under the work of workstream 2 of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Actions (ADP) by the end of the week. He said AOSIS expects clear indications of how the intended nationally-determined contributions (INDCs) will collectively prevent warming above the 1.5C threshold which for many of the SIDS means the difference between life and death.

He also stressed the importance of building a credible loss and damage mechanism once and for all since discussion on climate change began a quarter century ago.

Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele S. Sopoaga said he carried a huge burden and responsibility as the highest representative of his people at this meeting.

“I carried their hopes that there will be a future for Tuvalu. This is an enormous burden to carry. It keeps me awake at night,” he said, adding that no national leader, in the history of humanity has ever has to answer the question of whether his people will survive or will they disappear under the sea.

He asked “If you were faced with the threat of the disappearance of your nation, what would you do? I ask you to pause and ask yourself, what would you do?”

He said climate change is the single greatest challenge facing his country, threatening the livelihood, security and well-being of all Tuvaluans. The low-lying coral atoll nations of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives, are also on the frontline of this battle against climate change.

He asked if Parties can imagine what the world would be like even with the lowest projection provided by the IPCC, noting that it would be hell on earth.

Quoting the Italian poet Dante that ‘the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis’, he said those words are no less relevant today.

He said humanity are all facing the biggest moral crisis of humanity. There is no place for neutrality or denial. The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. If we do not do something now and do it with conviction and determination, we are condemning all future generations to an intolerable future.

“Do you want that on your conscience?” he asked.

He said he was moved by the over 370,000 people that came from all over the United States and other parts of the world to the Peoples’ Climate March in September in New York. He heard the civil society call and demands, and he shared their concerns and hoped other leaders were listening too.

It’s time to ignore climate change deniers that are driven by the fossil fuel industry, those driven by short term interests and profits, as well as national leaders who do not believe in climate change. He said they only see the dollar sign but ‘we see the eyes of children’ and we need to answer to the latter.

Sopoaga said it is very apt that the fossil fuels we are burning today are made from extinct plants and animals hence it signifies extinction. “We must not condemn ourselves to extinction riding on the back of the extinct. We must strive for renewal. We must dramatically change our future to renewable energy,” he opined.

However, he saw glimmers of hope in a potentially grim future as he was heartened by the emission reduction announcements made by China and the United States and that these two major powers must deliver on their promises and leadership to move beyond promises and take real action.

On the pledges by various countries to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), he said while it is progress but it is still a drop in the ocean as it is nowhere near what is needed to transform society into a fossil-free world and a world secure from the impacts of climate change.

He said reaching a comprehensive new protocol in Paris (venue of the next climate conference in 2015) is absolutely essential, noting that we cannot repeat Copenhagen (venue of COP 15 in 2009) and cannot suffer the frustration and humiliation of being asked to accept a half-hearted response to a crucial global crisis.

He said the new protocol must be comprehensive and cover all issues in a meaningful way. It has to include effective mitigation targets for all countries and also deliver real outcomes on adaptation and loss and damage and the necessary finance to transform our societies. And it must deliver the technology and the necessary capacity-building to ensure everyone can response to climate change and all these pillars are essential.

He said it makes no sense for some Parties to disagree to the inclusion of loss and damage in the agreement as we are inevitably going to suffer the impacts of climate change no matter how hard we try. Therefore, he stressed the need for a permanent arrangement on loss and damage that enjoys the highest level of political endorsement.

Sopoaga stressed that Tuvalu would not support a new protocol without a substantive programme on loss and damage. ‘’I hope that is clear to our partners,’’ he added.

Vice President of Tanzania, Mohammed Gharib Bilal speaking as the representative of the coordinator of the Committee of the African Heads of States and Governments on Climate Change (CAHSCC), underscored that climate change is indeed a challenge for Africa.

He said despite registering strong economic growth in recent years, most African economies rely on climate-sensitive sectors highly exposed to climate-variability, drought, flooding which are disrupting agricultural production endangering livelihood and health, pushing marginalised groups further down into the vicious cycle of poverty.

He pointed out that 70% of agricultural land in Africa is already degraded affecting 67% of the entire African population. A quarter (200 million) of the African population suffer from acute water shortage.

Bilal stressed that we must all work together towards an agreement that will help us to focus on strategic choices within the framework of the Convention that can ensure climate resilience and low emission development pathways for a sustainable future and that under the CAHSCC’s leadership, Africa is already making such choices to contribute towards this goal through various efforts and initiatives.

Africa, he said, is committed to working with all Parties to achieve a legally-binding agreement in 2015. Stressing that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities should be upheld, any new agreement need to be guided by the Convention, allowing the participation and considerations of all areas of interest within this instrument we all signed on.

In relation to the INDCs, Africa underscored the inclusion of all elements of adaptation, mitigation, climate finance, technology and capacity-building. Furthermore, the agreement should take into account the need for addressing loss and damage as a global concern.

He said each country should strive to take, in accordance to its national circumstances, bold and ambitious reduction efforts to ensure that temperature levels are limited to well below 2C with developed country Parties taking economy-wide emission reduction commitments, and African countries to be supported financially and technologically.

In terms of climate finance, Bilal said despite the pledges to the GCF, Africa is concerned that the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Adaptation Fund are not getting the contributions as committed. He called on developed countries to honour their many commitments and pledges on climate financing at various fora. He also pointed out Africa’s concern over the lack of clarity on REDD plus (referring to the forest-related mitigation activities, ‘Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’) financing, particularly to the host governments and local communities.

On agriculture and food security, he noted that as Africa’s socio-economic development is mainly hinged on the agricultural sector, which is increasingly being impacted by climate change, he urged developed countries to support the development and adoption of appropriate climate-resilient technologies in agricultural production, processing and value chain development to address the food security and poverty reduction imperatives in the continent.

He emphasised that adaptation should not be treated as a national problem as the short, medium and long term costs of adaptation can never be met by African countries whose economies are dependent on climate-sensitive sectors. Africa, he said, therefore, calls for adaptation to be made a global goal in the 2015 agreement and urges developed country Parties to support adaptation as a global priority.

Govind Raj Pokharel, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal speaking for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) emphasised that climate change would have irreversible impacts on LDCs and some risk complete disappearance, pointing out that despite 500 decisions (taken at various climate talks), we are still losing the picture and warned that the window for action is rapidly closing.

However, he said LDCs are still optimistic that to achieve a carbon neutral future remains at the present talks in Lima and next year in Paris. He called on all Parties to undertake ambitious mitigation action with economy-wide and long-term mitigation commitments by developed countries and other Parties in position to do so to increase their ambition over time. He hoped that the Paris conference will bring forward legal parity for loss and damage, means of implementation and transparency of action and support.

Needless to say, Pokharel said, the LDCF needs to be replenished which has so far received US$1million for the development of National Adaptation Programme of Actions to respond to most urgent climate change actions but is far from enough to implement them.

Speaking also for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, he said the group of eight countries recently adopted a statement that called for the post-2020 framework that is based on CBDR and equity.

Speaking for Nepal, Pokharel said mountainous countries like Nepal must be compensated for additional costs to development as impacts of climate change not only posed food and water insecurity but also affected tourism revenue.

India’s Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar believed that COP 20 is a COP of hope that will set us on a the path of an ambitious, comprehensive and equitable agreement in Paris next year.

He said in the past, the world managed to secure successful global cooperation to solve global problems, citing several examples including the joint-collaborative research to fight HIV-AIDS, and wondered why this spirit of joint cooperation cannot be summoned to combat climate change.

“Why do we want to profit from disasters?” he asked.

Stressing that the new agreement is under the Convention, he reminded Parties to be clear that the CP2 of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2020 but not the Convention which will remain. So, he said, it is evident that developing countries can do more if finance, technology support and capacity-building are ensured.

He further pointed out that ambition for the post-2020 period is directly link to the ambitious actions in the pre-2020 period by developed country Parties, adding that otherwise, the poor in developing countries will not get the carbon space to achieve sustainable development.

Therefore, he said, developed countries need to fulfil their legal obligation in the pre-2020 period by scaling up mitigation ambition and fulfil their promises.

On INDCs, Javadekar said INDCs are to be nationally-determined and not internationally determined hence there is no role for ex-ante review. Furthermore, he said INDCs should include all elements including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity-building.

He hoped this COP will prove to be the exception to the rule, and finish its work by Friday evening of 12 December.

He said the Indian government under the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown the political will to act and the work has started where the government has doubled the clean energy cess on coal and it now has US$3 billion to promote clean technologies. The national solar (energy) mission has also been scaled up by five-fold which means additional investment of US$100 billion, noting that the world has debated for years over the pledged US$100 billion but India has now invested the same amount on its own saving 155mil tonnes of CO2.

China’s Minister Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission stressed the importance of following the principles of openness, full participation, transparency and Party-driven process in reaching consensus to achieve results for the Lima COP.

He said Parties must accelerate implementation and raise ambition. The Bali Roadmap provides the overall arrangement for pre-2020 international cooperation to address climate change and it is important to close the gap in emission reduction where developed countries will raise their ambition to 40% (reduction based on 1990 levels) for the pre-2020 period and honour their commitments of the annual financial support of US$100 billion by 2020 as a basis of mutual confidence for reaching a timely agreement in 2015.

(The Bali Roadmap comprises the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan that covers shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing.)

Xie stressed that the principle of CBDR and RC and equity are the principles that guide all our actions in the long term in finding agreement. He said for the past 20 years, the adherence (to these principles) has proved to strengthen the implementation of the Convention. He noted that the ADP negotiation is the continuation of this historical process where the agreement of 2015 will be the starting point to take forward comprehensive, effective and sustainable implementation after 2020.

He said in this way, we can strengthen our confidence and take practical steps to move forward, consolidate consensus and narrow differences guided by the principles and provisions of the Convention and would be able to implement in a comprehensive manner the various elements of mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, capacity-building and transparency so as to contribute to the blueprint of 2015.

Xie also said actions are key and developed countries should play a leading role in the early determination of their post-2020 ambition in mitigation, finance and technology transfer while developing countries will make greater contributions in the framework of sustainable development with the support of developed countries.

He hoped that COP 20 will provide clear decisions to provide contributions (referring to INDCs) and help Parties to submit their contributions next year according to schedule to show that together we seek low carbon development and a brighter future.

He also shared China’s efforts in reducing its emissions where it has brought down by 28% its emission intensity from 2005 level or an equivalent of 2.5bil tonnes of CO2 emission in 2013 and its installed capacity of renewable energy accounted for 24% of the world’s total. Between 2009 and 2010, China contributed to 58% of the accumulated total energy conserved in the world.

On the joint communiqué with the United States, he stressed that the efforts reflect the principle of CBDR and RC as well as respective national circumstances where China will try to peak its emission around 2030, where the share of fossil fuel will account for 25% of its primary energy and the targets are based on the desire to promote sustainable development at home as well as fulfilling its international obligations.

Xie further said that China will strengthen south-south cooperation by doubling its financial contribution to the south-south cooperation fund to support SIDS, LDCs and African countries, adding that China will continue to play a constructive role to build a global climate change governance system that is fair and reasonable.

Speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Costa Rica’s minister of environment and energy Edgar Eduardo Gutierrez Espeleta said the Convention shall remain the central instrument to guide the challenge of our time. The Group supported a legally-binding 2015 agreement that must respect the principles and provisions of the Convention.

In this process, he said, we need transparency with participation of all countries. He said the Group supports adaptation to be treated in a balanced manner as mitigation, and not just to be included in the new agreement.

He said to keep temperature rise to 2C by the end of the century, the cost of adaptation increases if greenhouse gas emission does not decrease, therefore, clear actions by developed countries to scale up commitments particularly on how to achieve the US$100 billion by 2020 would need rules of transparency.

Espeleta stressed that south-south cooperation in combating climate change is supplementary and not an alternative to international cooperation, noting that the agreement must differentiate between Parties based on the principle of CBDR and RC that avoid back-sliding by developed countries.

Chile’s Minister of Environment Pablo Bedenier, speaking on behalf of the Independent Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean (AILAC), said COP20 should lay the foundation for an improved regime that is applicable to all so that a low-carbon and even carbon-neutral world is possible in the mid-century.

He said progress towards a Lima draft is the basis for the ADP to reach a Paris Protocol by 2015, adding that AILAC seeks to promote a negotiation that will lead to a balanced vision of the Paris agreement covering mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation that also reflect the individual contributions based on CBDR and RC.

He also said the Paris agreement has to be lasting and based on rules that are dynamic and allow us to enhance ambition over time.

Representing the Environmental Integrity Group, Juan Jose Guerra-Abud, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico said there is no time to lose and Parties need to make progress to produce a Lima draft text for the Paris agreement and make a decision to accelerate preparation for commitments in the new agreement and review them in advance in 2015. EIG, he said, had shown commitment to strengthen the multilateral regime as its members are taking actions and contribute to the GCF.

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