Photo: A beach at Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, on a sunny day. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. - Photo: 2017

The World’s Poorest and Most Vulnerable Want Climate Action

By Ramesh Jaura

BONN (IDN) – The world’s 48 poorest countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change are profoundly concerned whether “substantive progress” will be made in the months ahead on implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement in all its aspects.

This was emphasised by Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group, Gebru Jember Endalew of Ethiopia, as delegates from 140 countries closed the two-week session of the United Nations climate change negotiations on May 18 in Bonn.

The LDCs are a group of countries that have been classified by the UN as “least developed” in terms of their low gross national income (GNI), their weak human assets and their high degree of economic vulnerability.

“The LDCs are pleased that some valuable progress was made during this conference but we are not moving fast enough,” Endalew said in a media release. “This November at COP23 we must make considerable progress towards finalising the ‘rulebook’ that will implement the Paris Agreement without a last minute rush.”

COP23 is the 23rd session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) scheduled for November 6-17 in Bonn, the capital of post-war West Germany until re-unification of two German states in 1990. Meanwhile, the city hosts some 20 UN agencies and secretariats.

Significant progress in realising the Paris climate accord is inevitable because climate change impacts are already striking all corners of the world, and are anticipated to grow substantially over the next few decades, Endalew warned.

“The longer we wait, the more costly adaptation, loss and damage, and mitigation will become. We risk undermining our efforts to eradicate poverty and keep in line with our sustainable development goals,” he added.

The LDCs are in fact concerned that the international community is still far from addressing actual finance needs of developing countries, whose Nationally Determined Contributions underline the need for “trillions not billions”. Mobilising climate finance is crucial for LDCs and other developing countries to implement the Paris Agreement,” the LDC Chair added.

Against this backdrop, Endalew emphasised that the global response to climate change must be consistent with the best available science. “We must limit warming to 1.5˚C to protect lives and livelihoods, and this means peaking global emissions in 2020. Less than three years remain to bend the emissions curve down.”

With this in view, the LDCs are calling on all Parties “to redouble their efforts to tackle climate change with the urgency the climate crisis demands.” Going a step further, they are warning that “the livelihoods of present and future generations hang in the balance and depend on all countries taking fair and ambitious action.”

Closing the May conference that marked a staging-post for COP23, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the in-coming president of the November summit, pleaded for “a grand coalition to accelerate climate action before 2020 and beyond between civil society, the scientific community, the private sector and all levels of government, including cities and regions.”

Among Bainimarama’s priorities are: “building greater resilience for all vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and rising sea levels” and “boosting access to climate adaptation finance, renewable energy, clean water and affordable climate risk and disaster insurance and to promote sustainable agriculture.”

The island state of Fiji belongs to the 79 countries that comprise the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. Together they make up more than half of the signatories to the Paris Agreement. Nearly 40 states of the ACP Group are LDCs.

Despite prevailing uncertainty derived from the U.S. “reviewing” its climate change posture, the ACP Group and European Union have reaffirmed their strong and steadfast commitment to full implementation of the agreement, urging all partners to keep up the momentum created in 2015.

The ACP Group and EU have agreed common positions on the next steps to implement the Paris Agreement and strengthened cooperation to promote low-emission, climate-resilient development.

As an example of this increased cooperation, the EU has announced support of Euro 800 million for the Pacific region up to 2020, with around half earmarked for climate action. The EU will also provide Euro 3 million to support Fiji’s COP23 Presidency.

European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Today more than ever, Europe stands by its long-term partners most vulnerable to climate change. We, developed and developing countries together, will defend the Paris Agreement. We are all in, and our joint commitment to this Agreement today is as in Paris: irreversible and non-negotiable.”

The ACP Secretariat in Brussels quoted its Secretary General Patrick Gomes saying: “The longstanding, ongoing cooperation between the ACP Group and the EU shows we are serious about addressing the impacts of climate change. Implementing the Paris Agreement is not only about ensuring the very survival of the 79 ACP countries, but also about building sustainable, resilient and prosperous economies and societies worldwide.”

In Bonn the ACP Group and EU stressed the need to finalise the Paris Agreement work programme by 2018. This will be vital to ensure all countries can swiftly put their national climate plans into action, in order to contribute to the global goals. They also underlined the importance of making detailed preparations for the Facilitative Dialogue to be held next year.

This dialogue will be a key moment to establish a shared understanding of the impact of all parties’ contributions and the collective progress being made as well as to look into solutions that can allow us to achieve our collective goal.

The ACP countries and EU also gave their support to the consultations held by the outgoing Moroccan presidency and incoming Fijian presidency. The discussions aim at developing a clear proposal on the design of the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue, to be presented at the COP23 summit. [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 May 2017]

Photo: A beach at Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, on a sunny day. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. – 

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