COP21- 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - 30th November to 11th December 2015, in Paris, France
Posted in: Regional News by admin | 23 September 2015 | 2638
Climate Change has been acknowledged as the most critical challenge currently facing humanity, and indeed the whole planet. The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), scheduled for 30th November to 11th December 2015, in Paris, France is a crucial conference. It’s approximately 40,000 delegates need to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, to keep global warming below 2˚C.
COP 21: Importance for the Caribbean
For the Caribbean, as it is for many other developing countries, this conference may well be the last chance for effective action for survival. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5) confirms that the climate problem is worsening; and global mean temperature increases could reach 3.7˚C to 4.8˚C by 2100. The Report also confirms that small island developing states (SIDS) will be disproportionately affected by climate change and sea level rise in several key sectors such as on highly vulnerable marine ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and more frequent and severe weather events.
The Report points to the limited and, in many cases, the lack of capacity in SIDS to respond to the consequences of climate change in the near term at 1.5˚C warming and in the long term at 2˚ warming. This implies that even in the low emissions scenario, SIDS will experience substantial loss and damage. It further implies that the current global commitment to limit global atmospheric temperature increase to below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels is wholly inadequate since it will result in significant and irreversible negative impacts on the people, economies, and ecosystems of SIDS.
Because of their location, the island nations of the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and climate variability. Increasing hurricane intensity, rising sea levels and soaring temperatures are an ever present threat to the people of the Region.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), which became operational in 2005, coordinates the regional response to climate change. In its coordinated approach to the challenges of climate change, CARICOM Heads of Government have concluded that both mitigation and adaptation strategies will require a significant and sustained investment of resources that Member States will be unable to provide on their own. Meanwhile, CARICOM countries have endorsed the 2009 Lilendaal Declaration on Climate change and Development, which defines the Region’s political position. They have also established a number of Regional projects designed to mitigate the threats posed by climate change and to put in place a long-term Regional strategy and implementation plan to coordinate the efforts of a wide range of organizations across the islands.
With respect to COP21, key issues outlining the Region’s position in the UNFCCC Climate Change negotiations for COP 21 includes:
- The unprecedented opportunity
The adoption of the post-‐2015 development agenda will signal a paradigm shift towards sustainable development. However, given that countries are at different stages of development, provision is needed for the diversity among countries to accommodate and facilitate the disadvantaged group of countries identified by the United Nations. One of the harsh experiences the international community has learnt from the implementation of the MDGs is that “one-size does not fit all,” and CARICOM Member States will need to advocate for conditions that best suit their situation. With sustainability as its hallmark, there is an unprecedented opportunity to align actions for development with actions to respond to climate change. It is also opportune for the CARICOM Member States to pronounce on their expectations for the new global climate change agreement.
- No Island left behind
With adaptation limits likely to be exceeded for SIDs under the current long-‐term temperature goal, the international community should revisit the 2°C goal.
A recent report from the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) – a process established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to review the adequacy of the agreed long-‐term global goal of holding warming below 2°C – concludes that a 1.5°C goal would avoid or reduce substantial risks that would otherwise be experienced at 2°C. Most significantly it finds that the emission pathways agreed should not exclude meeting a warming limit below 2°C.
The SED Report coincides with the increasing recognition of the rising level of scientific evidence that indicates the 2°C goal is inadequate and that ultimately limiting warming below 1.5°C would be substantially safer. For SIDs, the report vindicates its longstanding position that 2°C warming limit is too high and would imperil our very existence. It should also be highlighted that the IPCC AR5 and the 2014 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap report, both confirm that a 1.5°C target is still within reach. These reports should therefore be taken fully into account by the international community in setting long-‐term mitigation objectives for the outcome of COP 21.
- All Hands on Deck
Urgent action is needed now. Critical international cooperation within the framework of a legally binding protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which links that action with the ultimate objective of the Convention is a sine qua non for COP 21.
The AR5 and the SED report confirm that while the world is not on track to achieving the 2°C warming limit, limiting global warming to below a 2°C and especially below 1.5°C is still feasible. To hold warming below 2°C target with a likely probability, the SED cites the AR5 findings that a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions of 40-‐70 percent by 2050 relative to 2010 levels is required. Cost-‐effective pathways are characterized in particular by immediate action.
Such action will pose significant technological, economic and institutional challenges for developing countries and in particular for capacity constrained developing countries such as CARICOM Member States.
In this connection, CARICOM Member States underscore the need for developed countries to take the lead in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and to provide the means of implementation, including finance, technology and capacity building support, consistent with their extant obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and additional obligations such as the US$100 billion annually by 2020 commitment undertaken and reaffirmed in COP decisions. In this regard, developed countries should provide clarity on how they intend to achieve these commitments. In doing so, clarity must bring certainty. As a first step, CARICOM Member States urge the earliest conversion of the initial pledges to the Green Climate Fund to legally binding agreements as a tangible demonstration of good faith and to ensure that the Fund can approve its first portfolio of projects before the COP 21. CARICOM Member States should further seek to have the new climate change agreement establish a mechanism for scaling up finance, and incorporate the technology mechanism as well as the Warsaw REDD+ Framework.
The efforts of developing countries to meet their obligations should also be recognized under the UNFCCC together with the support voluntarily rendered to developing countries on the basis of South-‐ South cooperation. At the same time, it should be recognized that those efforts could be accelerated and further enhanced with adequate additional and predictable support as aforementioned and including through innovative sources of financing.
- No derogation from special consideration of SIDs
The UNFCCC recognizes that small island developing states and low lying coastal states are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and further provides that the special needs and circumstances of the SIDs should be given due consideration in all aspects of the implementation of the Convention. CARICOM Member States maintain that there should be no derogation from this recognition and commitment in any COP decision or future implementing agreement under the Convention.
- Adaptation an imperative, proportionate to mitigation
With scientific evidence of approaching adaptation limits relative to different emissions scenarios, the relationship between mitigation and adaptation should be articulated in the new global climate change agreement. A high global mitigation ambition would reduce the amount of adaptation required. The most recent estimates suggest that the developing world will require approximately US$140 to US$300 billion a year by 20501 to adapt to climate change. Taking the most recent commitments for adaptation in 2013 and the lowest estimated needs by 20501, adaptation finance will need to increase by 438 percent by 2050. As such, the CARICOM Member States advocate for the UNFCCC to incorporate commitments for support for adaptation relative to the commitments for mitigation. It is critical therefore that the new regime establishes a clear link from a global mitigation goal, to clear emissions pathways relative to that goal, and commitments for support to adaptation proportionate to achieving the global mitigation goal.
1 $26 billion in committed adaptation finance in 2013, and $140 billion in adaptation needs (source: UNEP (2014). “Adaptation Gap Report.”)
- Responding to loss and damage as a legal objective
Weak implementation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments is leading to irreparable loss and damage. Adaptation and mitigation will not be sufficient to prevent all future losses and damages. It is not now clear what these additional costs will be and/or how much of these can be attributed to climate change. Still, it is important to start addressing such limits now. On the adoption of the UNFCCC, while such consequences were not provided for, an insurance mechanism was envisioned. As such, the new regime should provide for loss and damage in a manner that establishes the response to loss and damage as a specific objective under the Convention.
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