While the Pacific islands may be small, they are mighty. This was made apparent with history being made when Fiji became the President of the 23th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the first time a Pacific island, or Small Island Developing State has taken on such a huge responsibility.
The work undertaken by Fiji was commemorated this week in Katowice, as the reigns were handed over by the COP23 President, Prime Minister of Fiji, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama the Prime Minister of Fiji, to Poland to commence Presidency of the 24th Conference. The COP 24 President is Mijal Kurtyka of Poland.
“As I said right from the start, we are all in the same canoe in confronting the climate threats and the responsibility now falls to Poland to build on the legacy of Fiji and all those nations before us who have steered this canoe,” said the COP23 President, Hon. Josaia Bamimarama.
“We look to Poland as COP24 President to continue to fill its sails with the determination to move the climate action agenda forward. We need more ambition and urgency because as the scientists have just told us, the window of opportunity to act is closing very fast.”
The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP24) began with ominous overtones.
The Special Report on 1.5 Degrees Celsius by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in October this year highlighted the impacts of a 1.5 degree world and warmer. For example the report highlights up to 1.4 million people will be exposed to sea-level rise at 2°C compared with 1.5°C in 2100. Sea level rise will cost thousands of billions USD annually due to coastal flooding by the sea.
The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report released a week ago shows national commitments to reduce emissions are not sufficient to bridge the emissions gap in 2030.
The Paris Agreement has committed all Parties to work towards keeping global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, or even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change. Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late,” stated the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of the High Level Segment of the UNFCCC COP24.
“For many, people, regions even countries this is already a matter of life and death. This meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed. It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation. Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.”
It’s during the two weeks ahead that signatories to the Paris Agreement are to agree upon a work plan to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement of 1.5 degrees Celsius, known as the Paris Rulebook.
This will outline how countries monitor and report on their efforts to address climate change, how they will assess and review progress, how they will share this information and how they plan to strengthen their efforts over the coming years. The Paris Rulebook will also serve to mobilise action to ensure all countries are on track.
“I count on the engagement of Parties. This is a very important COP for all of us, we must all keep in mind the reasons why we are here,” said COP24 President Mijal Kurtyka at press conference today in Katowice.
“We are here to enable the work of climate change to reach the goals of the convention together. We have agreed we all have to act. The question how to do it? Is what remains on the table.”
The UNFCCC COP24 is hosted in Katowice, Poland from 2 – 14 December, 2018. On 2 December the gavel was handed over from Fiji to Poland as the COP24 Presidency with the High Level Segment and ceremonial handover taking place on 3 December, 2018.
For more information on events unfolding at UNFCCC COP24 please visit: www.unfccc.int