Samoa Prime Minister
Climate Change Resilience

9 November 2021, COP26 - COP26 President, Alok Sharma, and the UK Minister of Environment Lord Zachary Goldsmith heard the amplified voice of the Pacific as they made their positions clear during a special session convened on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow on Monday.

The Chair of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS), the Prime Minister of Samoa Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa led the special meeting that brought together Pacific leaders and Ministers both in Glasgow at COP26 and those who participated remotely, unable to attend COP26 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Disappointment was expressed by the Pacific with the slow progress made at COP26, a disappointment that resonated with the COP26 President Alok Sharma

“We must come away from the COP with clear and achievable steps to ratchet greater ambition ahead of COP27. We need to see a pathway to 1.5˚C as we are currently heading towards catastrophe for our islands,” said Prime Minister Mata’afa.

“The decisions in Glasgow must call on Parties to bring forward strengthened 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions in line with a 1.5-pathways well ahead of COP27.  Each year of delayed action towards 2030 will push us a step further to the abyss created by climate change.”

COP26 President Alok Sharma emphasised the importance of this COP being inclusive, noting the constraints of those in the room with COVID-19 restrictions, yet work is being done to make sure this is an inclusive COP.

“The voices of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States are being heard loud and clear in the negotiating rooms,“ said COP26 President Sharma.

You have stated clearly why success at this COP is so important for you. 1.5 I know, that is the difference between being able to exist and seeing your homes under water.  Even though the UK is neutral, I personally see myself as a champion of the climate-vulnerable countries and I will continue to champion that voice in the weeks ahead of us.“

The Pacific stressed their “asks” with the COP26 President, calling for the Glasgow package to translate into deliverable actions on the ground, such as halting fossil fuel subsidies. The Prime Minister of Samoa outlined disappointment that the Pacific has been let down by developed countries who have failed to deliver their USD100 billion-a-year obligation in 2020 by way of climate finance.

President Sharma acknowledged the disappointment from the Pacific and expressed his belief that this would be reached by 2023 based upon analyses and new commitments made.

The Pacific reiterated their call for concrete action on long term climate financing after 2025, saying it was imperative that this should be seen in week 2 of COP26.

"This includes a scaling up and a balancing out to a 50-50 split of climate finance for adaptation and mitigation,” said Prime Minister Mata’afa.

“We are on the frontlines of climate change and need the resources so that the promised increase in adaptation ambition can be realised in our countries. These resources must be made more accessible; as it stands, it takes years for these resources to reach our countries before they even begin to make a meaningful difference in our communities, delivery is far too slow.”

Demonstrating moral leadership, the Pacific Islands, as part of the Alliance of Small Islands States, have worked on the Global Goal on Adaptation to establish a clear set of principles to help ensure the GGA serves our islands, is nationally determined and does not create greater burdens for us.

While contributing less than 0.06% to the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, the Pacific are on the frontlines of climate change and are amongst the most vulnerable to its impact, yet their show of this leadership continues in developing these principles that provide a good starting point for work going forward.

“We are already experiencing intolerable Loss and Damage (L&D), and this will only worsen as temperatures inevitably rise. Our collective expectation is that this week delivers a dedicated package of resources specifically for L&D in addition to the required significant increase in adaptation funding,” Prime Minister Mata’afa told the UK Presidency of COP26.

“COP26 must deliver an outcome on loss and damage beyond just the operationalisation of the Santiago Network.  This should recognise the need for financing for Loss and Damage and be reflected in the decision on the new collective quantified finance goal, with L&D included as a distinct and separate element.”

Collectively, the Pacific Island delegations make up approximately 140 of the 30,000-plus reported to be attending COP26 in Glasgow.  Working to ensure Pacific “asks” for our survival to be seriously considered at COP26 is resulting in amplifying the Pacific voice in every way, and every space, possible.

The special session with COP26 President Alok Sharma and UK Environment Minister Lord Zachary Goldsmith also heard from the Pacific political champions at COP26 – Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum the Deputy Prime Minister of Fiji, Hon Seve Paeniu the Finance Minister of Tuvalu, Hon. Bruce Billimon the Minister of Health and Human Services of the Marshall Islands, and Hon. Steven Victor Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment of Palau.  A statement was also presented by Ms Esline Garebiti, Director of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, and Director-General of the Ministry of Climate Change - on behalf of Vanuatu.

Remarks from the UK Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith stressed that Pacific islands voices have been heard by the Presidency, recognising the Pacific speaks with the moral authority given the island region has contributed virtually nothing to the problem of climate change.

“We recognise that you’re on the frontline, that you will be hit first and hardest as a consequence of the irresponsible actions of the rest of the world.  If there is any group of voices that must be heard in these negotiations, it is the Small Islands Developing States.”

Prime Minister Mata’afa ended with a call for faster progress at COP26.

“It is our collective position that if COP26 is to be a success, we need significantly more progress made this week.  The Pacific Small Islands Developing States Leaders and Ministers remain committed to working closely with the COP26 Presidency.”

Key asks from the Pacific islands at COP26 include:

  • Finalisation of the Paris rulebook must support and not undermine keeping 1.5 within reach. The outcome on Article 6 rules must contribute to rather than undermine ambition. 

  • Environmental integrity must be protected, especially with accounting and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) transition – secured through no carryover of Kyoto units; transition of only CDM vulnerable project activities. 

  • The outcome in Glasgow must deliver a substantial cancellation rate for the delivery of an overall mitigation in global emissions (OMGE), to move beyond offsetting to deliver net global emission reductions –– as other approaches will not deliver additional global abatement

  • The decisions need to adopt a substantial rate for the share of proceeds (SOP) – a 5% share of proceeds to provide significant resources for vulnerable countries under the Adaptation Fund. 

  • On transparency, there must be a timely conclusion to progressing work under this agenda item. The PSIDS will not accept any renegotiation of the transparency rules agreed to in Katowice.  The outcome must be clear in the use of flexibility allowances, provide maximum clarity and avoidance of double counting in the tabular formats for support provided and mobilised.  Use of Tables and Tabular Formats must promote and not undermine Transparency, Accountability, Consistency, Comparability and Completeness (TACCC) principles

  • On common timeframes – a 5-year common timeframe is the only outcome aligned with the ambition mechanism of the Paris Agreement and the urgency we collectively face.

  • The climate change – oceans nexus is at the core of existence as Pacific SIDS.  Pacific nations expect oceans to be integrated into the UNFCCC processes. The Pacific have been waiting for progress on this since COP23.

The meeting, convened by Samoa as Chair of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States was held on Monday 8 November 2021 Glasgow time.  The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.

COP26 PSIDS Alok Sharma