3 December, 2019, Madrid, Spain - Ensuring that climate change finance is linked to the goal of keeping global warming temperatures below 1.5ºC is a key ask for the Pacific islands at the Twenty-Fifth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at Madrid, Spain.
The world’s largest climate change conference kicked off on Monday, and will end on 13 December. It is here that the Pacific islands are calling for the 1.5 ºC goal as a significant criteria for donor funding and pledges.
“There does need to be more pledges for climate finance coming, that being said it leads back to the discussion on ambition. The finances and the pledges are one thing but the ambition and action as a result of this process is lacking,” said Mr Choi Yeeting of Kiribati, currently in Madrid for the UNFCCC COP25.
For Small Islands Developing States the difference between global warming at 1.5ºC and 2ºC is significant. A 1. 5ºC world would spare the homes of 60,000 people on Small Islands Developing States from inundation and ensure resilient development altogether for countries like Kiribati.
According to the Special Report on 1.5 ºC by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, achieving a 1.5ºC goal is doable but action must be taken now. The longer it is left, the more expensive, dangerous and difficult it will be.
Linking this to climate finance is one way to make sure this happens, yet failure to have the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 ºC endorsed during COP24 in Katowice, Poland last year does pose a technical challenge in making this connection between climate change finance and achieving a 1.5 ºC world, happen.
“What we wanted last year was a formal endorsement so then we can use that Special Report on 1.5, as the basis for ongoing discussions for this whole process,” said Mr Wayne King, of the Cook Islands delegation attending the UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid.
“When we present our rationale formally, for climate change finance and use the science outlined in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5, the Green Climate Fund, or the Adaptation Fund can respond that while they agree, it has not been formally recognised by the COP and all guidance is from the COP. While you may find the IPCC 1.5 report being raised in other areas, it still has not had that formal recognition.”
This is a crucial year for climate change finance. Developed countries had committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund, which operates under the UNFCCC.
Now in its first replenishment, a total of 27 countries raised USD 9.8 billion at a pledging conference in Paris, France in October, to fund climate projects for the 2020 – 2030 period. New Zealand announced a fivefold increase of its contributions.
According to Climate Home News, the amount pledged falls short of meeting the USD 15 billion dollars’ worth of pipeline projects identified by the GCF as of December last year.
The Green Climate Fund is just one of the funding avenues available for Pacific islands to access climate finance from, the Adaptation Fund and the Global Environment Facility are others, yet it is a big challenge having access to these funds which is a key issue for many.
For some Pacific islands they would like more simplified processes and procedures to access all forms and channels of global climate finance for on the ground.
“Accessing climate finance is a challenge for us and it’s even more complicated than it was before funding mechanisms were established, we really need to emphasise this here and if we are not being heard in the negotiations, then we need to make sure we are heard on the sidelines and through the actions we are implementing within our respective islands,” said Mr Yeeting of Kiribati.
“There needs to be an understanding of our situations and circumstances and why we bring up the issue of access.”
Along with the call for easier access, the Pacific are also calling for a sure balance between funding mitigation and adaptation to climate change – and for climate finance will to bring about greater commitments to reducing greenhouse gasses. There is also a need for capacity support to the Pacific given the constraints countries face.
“From our point of view, we have really raised our ambition in key areas and we now want to make sure the international community raise theirs. It’s the same old adage – that we are not responsible for climate change but never the less we are playing our part to mitigate and adapt, as part of the collective community,” said Mr King.
The Cook Islands and Kiribati are Parties to the UNFCCC and are represented at COP25 in Madrid Spain during the event which takes place from 2 to 13 December, 2019. Both the Cook Islands and Kiribati are members of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) and negotiate with the Pacific island Parties under this regional grouping of over 40 Small Islands Developing States.