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Pacific voices at climate talks vital for island survival

The Pacific islands are adding their collective voice to that of the estimated 15,000 delegates expected to attend the 2014 climate talks in Lima Peru from 1 to 12 December.

The 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 20) will lay the foundation for the new climate treaty that is to be agreed upon in Paris by the end of next year. Here in Lima over the coming weeks, negotiations will also be geared towards raising the immediate ambition to act on climate change in advance of the agreement coming into effect in 2020.

The Pacific islands, members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are negotiating for global warming to be limited to below 1.5 degrees celcius by 2100.

“For us our stance is well below 1.5 degrees to survive, we cannot sign on to something that does not put us on this pathway when it comes to a 2015 agreement, it will guarantee the survival of our people,” said Ambassador Colin Beck, the Solomon Islands Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

“We need an agreement that closes the pre 2020 mitigation gap and also has a very strong ambition level – that will mean everyone needs to review their current ambition levels as we go into negotiations here in Lima.”
Governments meeting under the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” also known as ADP, will need to define the scope and type of contributions they will provide to the Paris agreement, along with clarity on how finance, technology and capacity building will be handled.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has this year warned against rising sea levels, storms and droughts as a result of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, and highlighted the many opportunities of taking climate action.

“Never before have the risks of climate change been so obvious and the impacts so visible. Never before have we seen such a desire at all levels of society to take climate action. Never before has society had all the smart policy and technology resources to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience,” said Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention.

“All of this means we can be confident we will have a productive meeting in Lima, which will lead to an effective outcome in Paris next year.”

The Lima conference needs to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries who are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

INDC’s are the contributions to what countries can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at country level using their own resources.

Countries will put forward what they plan to contribute to the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, well in advance of the Paris conference in December of next year.

“We’ll be hosting a Pacific side event here in Lima at the EU Pavilion that is going to showcase the mitigation efforts and potentials in the Pacific island countries. It will also explore how these efforts could be channeled through the INDC process while highlighting our financial and technical challenges we expe

rience in the Pacific,” said Mr. Espen Ronneberg, Climate Change Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The Pacific side event will be held on Tuesday, 2 December from 1 to 3 pm. Also part of the UNFCCC COP 20 is a Pre-2020 Action Fair to showcase efforts by countries to accelerate pre-2020 climate action. It will highlight how action is being scaled up and how many countries and non-state stakeholders are taking action and setting an example. This will be complemented by an exhibition that will run for the duration of the conference, for which the Pacific booth is a part of.

Some of the other key issues relevant to the Pacific islands at the Lima COP range from climate financing, adaptation and loss and damage, and building resilience to climate change.

As part of preparations towards this event SPREP coordinated a one day Pacific preparatory meeting in Lima in partnership with the High Level Support Mechanism on Climate Change (HLSM) funded under the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment.It follows on from a HLSM preparatory meeting for Pacific ministers and senior officials hosted in the Marshall Islands in October this year. This initiative is held in collaboration with Climate Analytics and Charles and Associates.

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