4 December 2018, Katowice, Poland - The Cook Islands voice is amplified at the UN Climate Change conference by a strong team of experienced negotiators. Working collectively with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), the key issues for the Cook Islands includes the Oceans Pathway, Loss and Damage, Climate Finance as well as the Special 1.5 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Released in October this year, the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 highlights the impacts of global warming limited to 1.5ºC as opposed to that of 2ºC. Work is now underway by AOSIS to ensure that all decisions negotiated at the UN Climate Change Conference considers these impacts upon the Cook Islands, as a part of all Small Islands Developing States and the planet as a whole.
“It may only be a .5 degree difference but the effect of this upon our way of life as we know it, is significant,” said Mr Wayne King, Director of Climate Change Cook Islands.
“We, as a nation, have committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, such as through our commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy sources for generating electricity by 2020. This IPCC Special Report shows us that if the global community works together for ambitious emission reduction targets, we can reach 1. 5ºC.”
The effects of a warmer world will impact upon the Cook Islands environment and thus its people. The science shows that at 1.5°C some coral reefs will be able to adapt, while at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none. This is of significant concern given the role of coral reefs, as a food resource basket, as well as for protection of the foreshore. Coral reefs dissipate 97% of the wave energy that would otherwise impact shorelines.
This is just one of the many different ways global warming exceeding 1.5ºC will make a difference to life as we know it.
The Cook Islands delegation consists of the Prime Minister, Hon. Henry Puna, Mr Ben Ponia, Mr Wayne King, Ms Rima Moeka’a, Ms Talissa Koteka, Ms Piakura Passfield, Ms Nanette Woonton, Ms Audrey Brown-Pereira, and Ms Linda Siegele. All of whom will have different roles at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP24). The roles of the delegation at COP24, range from following the different negotiations threads, such as climate finance, to participating in high level events and discussions with development partners.
“The Ocean Pathway is also important for us given our situation as an oceanic nation with widely spaced inhabited islands over an economic exclusive zone of approximately 2 million square kilometres, all of which is now under an integrated ocean management strategy called Marae Moana. We are empowered to protect our oceans from the effects of climate change and this is just one global process that can lead to positive outcomes trickling down to our oceans,” said Mr King.
“Many of us rely upon our ocean for our livelihoods and sustenance. There is a strong connection between our ocean and our way of life in the Cook Islands, and we want to ensure we do all we can to save it from climate change impacts such as ocean acidification.”
Over the duration of the two week conference the Cook Islands will also be participating on the sidelines of the negotiations in the numerous side events featuring climate actions undertaken, and through different meetings with partners and institutions.
The UNFCCC COP24 is held in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December, 2018. The Cook Islands delegation is funded through different funding sources including that of the UNFCCC Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Womens Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) as well as self-funded participation.