Monday, November 16, 2009

Seychelles and small islands remind the world that Copenhagen is about survival

VICTORIA, Mahé, November 12, 2009

The Republic of Seychelles, as a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) -a Climate Change negotiating bloc of 43 island nations, has urged leaders of the world’s industrial nations to double efforts toward concluding an ambitious and legally binding pact at the Dec. 7-18 climate summit in Copenhagen. This was the call made by the Seychelles delegation during the last UN Climate Change negotiating session which took place in Barcelona, Spain from 2-6 November, 2009. Seychelles was represented by Ambassador Ronny Jumeau and Mr. Wills Agricole, Director General, Climate and Environmental Services of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Transport.

More than 4,500 participants, including delegates from 181 countries, took part in the Talks. This call to action by Seychelles’ negotiators follows the statement by President James Michel to the special event on climate change organized prior to the United nations General Assembly in September, where he clearly pitched the fight against Climate Change as a battle for survival by small island states:

“For small islands, climate change is about our existence. It is about maintaining our human right to live and work in the land of our birth, the land of our parents. We must act now to ensure that it is also the land of our children” the President had declared.

OBJECTIVE

The main objective of the Barcelona session was to continue streamlining text, and to identify key issues and provide clear options for Ministers to choose from in Copenhagen. The talks focused on the key elements of the Bali Action Plan (BAP), namely: adaptation, finance, technology, mitigation, capacity building and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. It began addressing these issues based on several non-papers developed by the first part of the talks three weeks earlier in Bangkok.

OUTCOME

Many felt that little progress was made, albeit uneven with a very slow pace, on the key elements of the Bali Action Plans, especially on adaptation and technology, however, there was no progress on mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and finance. That would allow developing countries to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, it would be difficult to have a deal in Copenhagen. So leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces.

This forced the UN officials to step in after the African Group, in an unprecedented show of unity, called for a suspension of all further negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol until substantial progress was made by developed countries on emission cuts beyond the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. This led to suspension of all Kyoto Protocol contact groups until Wednesday 4th November, after agreement had been reached to devote 60% of meeting time to numbers and evaluate progress at the end of each day. The African countries were supported by all other developing country blocks at the talks. That move by developing countries reflects their deep and growing frustration over the slow progress that industrialised countries are making towards agreeing cuts.



SEYCHELLES POSITION

Alarmed that emerging scientific evidence shows that the effects of human-induced climate change are worse than previously projected and that the impacts of climate change which we are already experiencing including sea level rise, more frequent and extreme weather events, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, coastal erosion, and changing precipitation patterns, will further intensify, the Seychelles expressed deep concern at attempts to steamroll the world’s most vulnerable countries into accepting a watered down political agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Summit , rather than an internationally legally binding outcomes, which prompted Seychelles to reiterate its position firmly along with the world’s least developed countries and small island states, that steep emissions cut pledges by the developed world would limit global warming to at most 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Industrial nations have been aiming for targets that limit global warming to 2 degrees C above those levels.

Seychelles re-affirmed its call for emissions cuts in the short and medium-term that would limit temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Seychelles also stressed that minimizing impacts of climate change on Small Island Developing States should be the benchmark, and reiterated its position on global emission reductions of 85% by 2050 from the 1990 levels. This proposal also calls for developed countries to reduce emissions by at least a 45% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020, with peaking by 2015, complemented by reductions by Annex I countries of more than 95% by 2050 from 1990 levels. These were based on recent scientific research which indicated that such actions are economically and environmentally feasible.

Finally, Seychelles’ delegation informed the meeting that it is essential that we build upon, and do not weaken, the existing legally binding framework. Ambassador Ronny Jumeau commented that “Now is not the time for backsliding, because the failure to deliver ambitious legally binding outcomes in Copenhagen will threaten the very survival of Small Island Developing States like Seychelles”.

CONCLUSION

Little progress was made on the two key issues: of mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and finance. That would allow developing countries to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, it would be difficult to have a deal in Copenhagen. So leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces. Seychelles as a member of AOSIS demanded the immediate engagement of world leaders to break the deadlock in negotiations, and urged heads of state and government to come to Copenhagen ready to sign onto robust and legally binding commitments.

WAY FORWARD

Negotiators must deliver a final text at Copenhagen which presents a strong, functioning architecture to kick start rapid action in the developing world. And between now and Copenhagen, developed industrialized governments must deliver the clarity required to help the negotiators complete their work, because there are no practical obstacles whatsoever. All that is lacking now is the political will to finish the job. Weak political declarations are not the solution. Therefore, the delay in brokering a legally binding document is significant. The only instrument for controlling carbon emissions is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. Unless a new treaty is in place by then, no regulations will exist, threatening chaos among industries relying on predictable rules for their business development and threatening the very survival of Small Island Developing States, including Seychelles Therefore, Seychelles -again urged leaders of the world’s industrial nations to double their efforts toward concluding an ambitious and legally binding pact at the Dec. 7-18 climate summit in Copenhagen, because for Seychelles and other members of AOSIS , legally binding outcomes and finance commitments are a prerequisite for a new multilateral deal on climate change.

For more Information, please contact:
Wills Agricole, Director General, Climate and Environmental Services
Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Transport
Tel: +248 670400, Fax: +248 610647 E-mail: w.agricole@pps.gov.sc

SOURCE: Republic of Seychelles – Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Transport