Solomon Islands standing in solidarity with Small Islands Developing States at COP 25 to avert a climate change crisis

Delegates from more than 200 countries are in Madrid trying to agree the final rules for the Paris Agreement, which comes into force next year, but according to news relayed by Radio New Zealand, today, Fiji’s attorney general has said Australia’s climate actions have been disappointing, as UN climate talks continue to falter.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was part of a group of Small Island States who convened a news conference to vent their discontent, accusing major emitting countries of doing what they could to block progress.

Australia is seeking to carry over credits from the Kyoto Protocol of the 1990s to meet its Paris targets, something more than 100 countries have pushed back against, calling it a loophole.

Radio New Zealand has said, quote:

“The Association of Small Island States, which has formed a bloc at the talks in Madrid, has been growing increasingly angry at the state of the negotiations in Madrid.

“In the final days of the talks, which could now extend into the weekend, discontent is growing, with the association accusing a bloc of major emitting countries of doing what they can to block progress.

“There are also worries that the final statement from this meeting may be watered down, with major decisions kicked down the road to a meeting in Glasgow in twelve months.

The Alliance of Small Island States spokesman, Carlos Fuller, said the talks had become a farce.

“We are appalled at the state of negotiations. At this stage we are being cornered, we fear having to concede on too many issues that would undermine the very integrity of the Paris Agreement.”

What is before us is a level of compromise so profound that it underscores a lack of ambition, seriousness about the climate emergency and the urgent need to secure the fate of our islands,” he said.”

At the meeting, the lead negotiator for the Solomon Islands, Dr. Melchior Mataki, called for the allocation of funding under the Global Environment Facility to increase the climate change focal area and for the co-financing arrangements to be revised to reduce the burden on developing countries.

Speaking before the High Level Segment of the Twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP25), Dr Mataki said, “Article 6 of the Paris Agreement must result in overall increased ambition and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, global fossil fuel production must be wound down as well. Kyoto Protocol carbon units need not be transitioned to the Paris Agreement market mechanisms.”

Five year common time frame for reporting nationally Determined Contributions should be agreed upon. Robust reporting and accounting rules should be in place to avoid double counting, and the mechanisms must adhere to environmental integrity and result in sustainable development and achievement of the overall goals of the Paris Agreement.”

He added, “The impacts of climate change across the planet, includes the submergence of islands in Solomon Islands. Confirmed by the three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Reports and the latest Emissions Gap Report by the UN Environment Programme, Solomon Islands calls for all climate change work to be guided by science.”

“If we don’t take heed of science which is already clear and definitive, then this multilateral process is unfortunately taking its cue from fake science.”

“There is a limit to adaptation. Hence, Loss and Damage must be addressed with a focus on implementation through technical support and dedicated financial streams through the Green Climate Fund and other funding mechanisms.”

On the governance of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, we support that it comes under the mandate of both the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, and the COP.”

For Solomon Islands, finance is a key means for putting the Paris Agreement into action. The island nation calls upon the develop country parties to achieve the USD 100 billion goal by 2020, saying the discussion on long term finance must go beyond 2020, and scaled-up financing must ensure a balance between adaptation and mitigation and delivered as grants.”

Solomon Islands also calls for the allocation of funding under the Global Environment Facility to increase the climate change focal area and for the co-financing arrangements to be revised to reduce the burden on developing countries.”

Dr Mataki was not a lone voice from the Solomon Islands speaking out at COP 25, Maryann Puia, a youth climate activist from the Solomon Islands, shared her experiences and learning’s and told the meeting, quote:.

“I am Maryann Puia from the Solomon Islands, Pacific Island Represent activist, and the Awareness officer for Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change. This is my first COP and I am overwhelmed by the excitement of being here to represent other youth and the Pacific.

“As a young Pacific Islander at COP25, it is very important that I listen to how other Pacific island nations are dealing with climate change. But, more importantly, I am here to speak up, to voice my concerns and make sure they are heard. I am grateful to see that our Pacific leaders are now listening to young people like me and actually paying attention.

“While we were here at COP25, we youth activists met with distinguished Pacific leaders including former Prime Minister of Tuvalu RT Hon. Enele S. Sopoaga, former President of Kiribati H. E Anote Tong, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights H.E. Michelle Bachelet.

“I felt deeply encouraged that these prominent climate leaders took the time to listen to Pacific youth activists like me. Among my suggestions, we know these international conferences require the sudden influx of people to one place, resulting in the consumption of electricity, water and the emissions associated with the additional use of transportation and airplane travel.

“So I ask these leaders to consider thinking about digitizing climate change summits and hosting other regional or localised conferences in future.

“At a panel discussion, we were asked what meaningful engagement meant to us. I said that any meaningful engagement should include youth inputs, women’s inputs and those from minority groups within each community. But more importantly, genuine engagement should result in our inputs being reflected in policy and decision-making, and not just set aside.

“Through talking with other youth activists, I learnt about the different ways young people in the Pacific region are standing up to address the impacts of climate change, and the victories they had achieved. I also learnt about their strength and resilience as activists at the forefront of the climate crisis.

“COP25 was a very important opportunity for us because it provided a platform for young people to share our experiences in the adverse impacts of climate change within our own communities, and to discuss with our leaders ways to collaborate and address the climate crisis.

“Today the voices of youth activists from around the world are among the strongest forces calling for urgent climate action and climate justice in the Pacific. I am proud and thrilled to see here at COP25 youth organizations advocating at the local, regional and global level for climate justice through highlighting the links between climate change and the impacts on Pacific islanders’ human rights.

“These discussions bring to light the impacts climate change is having on our culture and traditions, its links to our food security, to water and to the ocean. For young people in the Pacific, Climate justice is a crucial aspect of these discussions because we are the ones most affected by the climate crisis and the most vulnerable as the climate emergency gets worse.

“We have first-hand experience of extreme and severe weather events such as cyclones, flash floods and tsunamis which have inflicted massive damage on our infrastructure and environment as well as adversely impacting our health and safety and the overall wellbeing of our communities.

“At a panel discussion I attended, the former Prime Minister of Tuvalu said that if no actions are taken now to address the climate crisis, in 30 years’ time Tuvalu will be underwater. It’s devastating because we are not only at risk of losing our lands, we could lose our cultures, our traditions and our identity that is embedded in our lands.

I am astounded at how slow big countries are in negotiating to come up with a plan to address this climate crisis, and saddened that some countries are pushing for human rights concerns to be excluded from their agreements.

“The time for kind words and politely asking for action is over.

“We are in a climate emergency and we need to take the fight to the big polluting countries and corporations if governments continue to refuse to listen. That’s why we must scale up the fight. We need action now. Our future, our very lives are in danger. We did not ask for this climate emergency, nor did we cause it.

“So I call on all Pacific islanders, young and old to step up, unite and fight this climate crisis, not just for ourselves, but for the future of your children, and their children’s children.”

Sources – Radio New Zealand and Solomon Times on Line

Yours sincerely

Frank Short


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