Submitted by nanettew on Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:44
Joe Aitaro of Palau
December 11, 2018 by nanettew
Climate Change Resilience

10 December 2018, Katowice, Poland - The second week of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP24) opened with a strong hive of activity.  The COP24 is hosted in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December 2018.

Global cooperation was celebrated in 2015 with the Paris Agreement (PA), the new international climate agreement, which starts in the year 2020.  This agreed to hold the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and to ensure that efforts are pursued to limit increase to 1.5ºC. 

Discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference this week will see the development of the Paris Agreement Rulebook that brings the Paris Agreement to life through outlining how climate action will be carried out and accounted for by all Parties, to achieve the PA goals.   This includes guidelines on how to track the national commitments made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as how to communicate the climate actions undertaken at the national level.

Today we spent time with Mr Joe Aitaro, Chief Negotiator for Palau to find out how the negotiations were progressing in the key areas of climate finance.

It was agreed in 2017 at COP23 that the Adaptation Fund, which provides funding to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change, will serve the Paris Agreement.  To date the Adaptation Fund has allocated USD 532 million to climate adaptation activities, as a result 183, 085 hectares of natural habitats have been preserved and restored.

Q.  What has been on the table here at COP24 when it comes to climate finance and the Adaptation Fund?

Joe Aitaro: “We want to look at the Adaptation Fund, we know there are discussions going around that it will serve the Paris Agreement, but in particular we would like to finalise just how it will serve the Paris Agreement.  We want to make sure that the Adaptation Fund does move forward as adaptation is crucial for us in the Small Island Developing States, so we want to make sure that it does progress and have a say in what form it will take or how it will be operationalised.  That’s being discussed and negotiated right now on the floor.  All the parties have agreed it will serve the Paris Agreement, but we need to finalise how it will - details such as the governance issues, who makes up the board, the financial flows and so on.  Those are just the tip of the iceberg of what we are negotiating here at COP24.”

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) helps fund activities to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and assists vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Formed under the UNFCCC, developed countries have committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion by 2020.  As of May this year, USD 10.3 billion had been reached.  The decision to launch the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund has been made with the round of replenishment ending with a pledging conference at the end of 2019.

Q.  How do you think the call for replenishment of the Fund is coming along?

Joe Aitaro: “Well replenishment of the Green Climate Fund is being strongly discussed right now - I think that’s one of the major obstacles during the negotiations.  We, the developing countries, we want to see the funds coming in the replenishment process now but of course our partners are saying that has to happen next year, that they would like some guidance and rules in this, coming from this COP.  But here is the thing, if you look at the current financial situation this year we have about USD 2 billion left and that is not enough right now to carry us over.  We have a GCF board meeting coming in March and once we exhaust these funds there are no more left so it’s very critical that we start this replenishment process.  We need some assurance from our donor countries and partners on this.

We’re also calling for the Simplified Approval Process, a pilot programme with the GCF, which allowed for a faster and simpler disbursement of climate funding from the GCF, to continue.  We would like this to be a permanent process in the GCF to benefit all Small Island Developing States.”

A key document on the table for consideration at the COP24 is the Special Report on 1.5ºC by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The scientific report outlines the differences of a world in which global warming has been limited to 1.5ºC as opposed to that of 2ºC.  Released in October this year, the report outlines three key aspects – 1. That while the world is in a dire state at 1.5 it will be much worse at 2ºC.  2. That the Small Islands Developing States were justified in their lobby to include the 1.5ºC in the Paris Agreement and 3.  That a limit at 1.5ºC is feasible, it require urgent action from all while the window for opportunity is still open.

It is at COP24 that Small Islands Developing States Parties are calling for the IPCC Special Report on 1.5ºC to be welcomed in the outcomes and decisions of the COP24.  The Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) were strong in calling for the language to be incorporated in the Paris Agreement.  Here at COP24 AOSIS continue their call for the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 to be welcomed in the COP24 outcomes, so the report remains on the table for consideration in all future work on climate action.

Q.  How do you feel the negotiations are going with the Special Report on 1.5ºC by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?  Is there much traction with this becoming a strong part of the COP24 outcomes?

Joe Aitaro: “There is a really strong push here for 1.5ºC Report by the IPCC.  With that report coming out it has validated what the Small Islands Developing States have been saying since the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Bali in 2007, all the way until now.  The world needs to contain global temperatures to below 1.5ºC.  Unfortunately here at the negotiations, when we put any language which references 1.5 we get strong push back from our partners and I still don’t understand why.  The world needs to wake up, especially our partners.  This report is a wake-up call that we can no longer scientifically question the need for a 1.5ºC world, we now have the answers to this.  The Small Islands Developing States through AOSIS have championed this so we are no longer at the doorstep anymore.  Climate change is in our house.”

The UNFCCC COP24 is hosted in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December 2018. 

For further information on the IPCC Special Report on 1.5ºC please visit the following:

IPCC Special Report on 1.5ºC: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

Key facts on the IPCC Special Report on 1.5ºC: https://climateanalytics.org/briefings/15c-key-facts/