The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) quickly convened a ministerial press conference on the side of ongoing United Nations climate change negotiations to draw attention to their position.
The theme that was echoed by all ministers on the panel: Where is the ambition?
Carlos Fuller, lead negotiator for AOSIS, which is currently chaired by Belize, said that AOSIS is disappointed in the 25th Conference of Parties to the UN climate talks because they have demonstrated very little ambition. The island nations agree that COP25 is supposed to be a defining moment.
In December 2015, world leaders held hands on stage in Paris, united in their commitment to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally to 1.5 degrees. The Paris Agreement remains the world’s best shot at avoiding runaway climate change. Implemented wisely, it can unlock the inclusive growth story of the 21st century, improving lives around the world. However, at this stage of COP25, AOSIS says that negotiations are heading in the opposite direction of the ‘Decade of Ambition.’
“At this stage, we are being cornered. We have to concede on too many issues that will undermine the very integrity of the Paris Agreement,” Fuller stated, “What lays out before us is a level of compromise so profound that it underscores a lack of commitment to the climate emergency and the urgent need to secure the fate of our islands.”
The ministers raised particular issues of most importance to small island states.
Article 6: Carbon Markets
Simon Steil, Minister of the Environment of Grenada expressed concern about the overall outcomes of this COP.
“Parties are losing sight of the bigger picture, as though there is no climate emergency,” he stated. Specifically making reference to Article 6, the most contentious topic at COP25, Steill mentioned that certain countries are championing double counting and pre-2020 rollovers. This essentially undermines environmental integrity and is something island states will not agree to.
AOSIS is not averse to market mechanisms, but there needs to be a robust and transparent infrastructure in place for these mechanisms to work for the benefit of the environment, Steill said.
The Production Gap Report, which was released in November 2019, assesses the discrepancy between government plans for fossil fuel production and global production levels consistent with 1.5-degree C and 2-degree C pathways. The report reviews, across 10 fossil-fuel-producing countries, the policies and actions that expand fossil fuel production and, in turn, widen the gap.
Drawing reference to the report, Steill explained that parties at COP25 are steering away from the suggestions outlined. The report calls for dramatic strengthening of NDCs by 2020, but some countries are failing to or are unwilling to revise or ramp up their NDCs.
“Some countries show a clear lack of ambition and undermine the efforts of small island states. This inaction is costing the lives of our people and the livelihoods of millions around the world. We need to stop talking, we know what needs to be done. This is supposed to be the action COP for ambition,” Steill shared.
Loss and Damage
Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development & Climate Change of Belize expressed the AOSIS position on Loss and Damage.
Island states see firsthand the kind of loss and damage that the climate emergency is creating and member states are appalled at the state of the negotiations and how slowly they have been moving.
“In recent years, the frequency and intensity of storms have ravaged our regions. Countries such as Tuvalu and Kiribati are literally at risk of disappearing because of sea-level rise. It is unjust when some developed countries claim to stand with us on one hand but object to even the most modest text on loss and damage. Loss and damage is not an idea that is floating, visit any of our islands and you will see and feel what we are talking about,” he strongly expressed.
AOSIS champions the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage, which was created to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
The common echo continued, “Where is the ambition on Loss and Damage.”
Closing off the panel was Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister of the Economy of Fiji.
“Ambition on climate finance requires that we set a bold new climate finance goal that respects our ambition for a 1.5-degree world. Our bold new climate finance target must be honoured swiftly and be guided by the science,” he said.
AOSIS will not settle “noting the science,” or “thanking the scientists,” as some countries have been doing at COP25. AOSIS is issuing a strong call to act on the science and they are ready to show maximum ambition, challenging the world to follow suit.