15 November 2022, Sharm El-Sheikh - As the impact of the climate crisis continues to wreak havoc on lives in the Pacific, and around the world, Samoa has added her voice to the growing chorus from leaders at COP27 demanding “collective leadership and solidarity” to make urgent decisions to address the climate crisis.
Speaking during the resumed high-level segment of COP27 at the red sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on Tuesday, Prime Minister, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, said the gathering in Egypt must become the turning point once and for all to turn commitment to concrete action, and elevate ambition to save the planet for future generations.
“We can avoid a climate catastrophe in our children’s lifetime,” Prime Minister Fiame said. For this to happen, however, she highlighted a number of concrete steps world leaders must agree to, and implement as a result of the COP discussions. Loss and damage and climate finance were on top of Samoa’s list.
“Arrangements for the Loss and Damage Response Fund must remain a priority for all,” she said.
“Increased funding for mitigation and adaptation must be found to ensure achievement of the 1.5-degree Celsius target. Loss and damage must remain firmly on the table as we continue to witness increasing occurrences and severity of climate change impacts everywhere. Currently, the financial burden for loss and damage falls almost entirely on affected countries and not those most responsible for climate change.”
Additional finance is critical, Hon. Fiame said.
“The promised $100 billion floor for climate action can no longer be sidelined as this amount is already inadequate for the challenges that lie ahead. Samoa welcomes the commitments announced by several developed countries to increase their climate finance and lead in the public climate finance domain. But it is time to concretise pledges and commitments already made or we will be left with empty promises,” she told the conference.
“We must also advance beyond current promised climate finance. And this is achievable if we are serious, committed, and united. Coal use and new coal power plants must end. Fossil fuel subsidies must be phased out and resources be redirected towards mitigation and adaptation efforts. It is not too late to make COP27 the “adaptation and loss and damage COP.”
On adaptation and mitigation, Prime Minister Fiame challenged the conference.
“Why is it not possible to apply the same level of urgency of action witnessed for the Covid-19 pandemic to meeting the 1.5 degree Celsius promise?” she asked. “The science is clear and irrefutable. We are off target in achieving the Paris Agreement goal. Our focus lies squarely on actions and more actions on the ground. Continuing on the current path means severe consequences, for all humankind.”
Samoa called for upscale ambition on climate mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and climate finance, with Prime Minister Fiame assuring that Samoa is doing their part. She challenged everyone to walk that extra mile to determine and frame the future trajectory of our planet Earth.
“Samoa submitted its enhanced NDCs in July 2021 and launched its Roadmap prioritizing 21 mitigation strategies, targeting high-emitting and important sectors such as Energy, Tourism, Marine, Forestry and Agriculture, to accelerate transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy,” she said. “Scaled up Adaptation Efforts involve the development of 43 Community Integrated Management Plans which collectively form the basis of Samoa’s national adaption plan that is community based and driven. To address and mitigate impacts of climate change, Samoa is continuing its nation-wide tree planting campaign which started with the planting of 3 million trees from 2009 – 2020. Currently a national campaign has begun to plant a further 3 million trees from 2022 to 2027 to significantly enhance carbon sequestration and carbon stock.”
Climate change negotiations cannot afford to ignore the ocean challenges, Samoa advocated.
“We are alarmed by the crisis facing our ocean. Its health is under attack; from ever rising temperatures and acidification, marine pollution, ecosystem collapse, and rapid biodiversity loss. International efforts are desperately needed to reverse and improve the plight of our oceans and ecosystems,” Hon. Fiame said. “There is an inseparable bond between the ocean and the lives of our people. It is our home and a corner stone of our culture and traditions. It provides a range of ecosystem services; anchors food security, nutrition and decent jobs and livelihoods; protects biodiversity; provides means of maritime transportation; and form an important part of natural and common heritage.”
Samoa supports placing ocean sustainability at the core of SDG14 and ensure committed financing for ocean action.
“We must unite to prevent and eliminate marine pollution, including plastics, oil spills, discharge of waste and nuclear contaminants. Plastic pollution is of serious concern. The magnitude of the crisis is such that we need to reduce, redesign, create demand for recycle content and put basic infrastructure for collection in place,” she said.
“The Pacific SIDS contribute less than 1.3% of mismanaged plastics pollution in the world’s ocean yet are grossly and disproportionally affected by its impacts. The 2nd World Ocean Assessment pointed out the highest quantity of floating plastics are found in the South Pacific subtropical gyre.”
Sea-level rise is of immediate and grave concern and Samoa welcomes the ongoing work within UNCLOS and call for the urgent conclusion of negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions.
“Increased acidification of our Ocean, is already destroying entire reef ecosystems which may never be recovered. Reef damage affects fish population which in turn affect entire fisheries upon which we rely. This is a stark reminder of how interconnected the effects of climate change are with our environments, and our daily lives. Population displacement, loss of sovereignty and statehood are consequences of climate change and sea level rise - and we must plan now for the inevitable,” Prime Minister Fiame said.
“For our oceans we must promote ocean governance, safeguard maritime zones, protect BBNJ, and eliminate pollution. Amongst the myriad of prioritised actions, includes building resilience and reversing environmental degradation, taking ambitious actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change, addressng the risks of loss and damage and supporting the sustainable management of natural resources. We must push for access to appropriate technology and to financing, to enable developing countries to achieve net-zero emissions before 2050.”
Samoa’s statement follows other national statements from Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and senior officials at COP27. Prime Minister Fiame reminded the conference that she and other Pacific leaders had travelled thousands of miles across continents to be in Egypt.
“Are we in a better situation than when we last met in Glasgow? Have we mustered the courage to make hard and bold decisions in the last few days towards considered actions to mark a positive conclusion for COP 27? The optimism in us will it to be so, but reality is saying otherwise. We need to revisit the Glasgow Climate Pact – calling on a strategic presidential decision on sufficient implementation of the Package.
“Samoa and all Pacific SIDS are at the mercy of climate change and our survival hangs in the rush of the climate hourglass. The major emitters poised for commitment are far too few in number with lackluster ambition for decent climate action. Still, we welcome those that have set concrete timetables and targets because the threat to our livelihoods, security and wellbeing is ominously real.”
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022.
It is being attended by Pacific leaders and their delegations, who are advocating for their survival. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is lead of the One CROP, working together to provide support to Pacific Islands.