Small Islands and Least Developed Countries Join Forces on Climate Change
Vulnerable countries say more than 1.5 degrees of climate change is unacceptable
Two major blocs of the world’s most vulnerable countries today joined forces in demanding that the new Copenhagen climate agreement limit temperature increases to as far below 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
Speaking today at a press conference in the margins of this week’s talks in Bonn in preparation for the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December, negotiators and envoys representing the world’s small island developing states and least developed countries (LDCs) joined together in expressing dismay at the current lack of progress and ambition in the talks.
“With less than 115 days left to
Consistent with their 1.5 degree temperature target, the 80 countries that make up the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Group of LDCs are now united in calling for industrialized countries to together reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
To achieve these goals, AOSIS and the Group of LDCs are demanding that global emissions peak by 2015, and fall quickly thereafter to ensure that total global emissions are reduced to at least 85 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would make it possible to return atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Adverse impacts are already being felt with the current temperature increase of 0.8 degrees Celsius.
Further temperature increases will only aggravate and accelerate the impacts already occurring in the world’s most vulnerable countries.
These impacts include sea-level rise, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, land loss, coastal erosion, flooding, drought, desertification, loss of fresh water supplies, biodiversity loss and more frequent and intense extreme weather events including hurricanes. Warming so far has already led the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to declare in a submission to the UNFCCC that some particularly low-lying island States are ‘very likely to become entirely uninhabitable’.
“Climate change is here, and already delivering damage” said Bruno Sekoli from
A report released in May by the Global Humanitarian Forum, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, found that climate change already delivers global economic losses of US$125 billion per year, with 90 per cent of the burden falling to developing countries.
To help address the need to both mitigate emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, developing countries have called for financial support to the tune of 1 per cent of the industrialized world’s GDP, or approximately US$400 billion annually, in addition to current development aid.
Total finance currently available for climate-related projects is estimated at less than US$10 billion a year. So far, less than $1 billion has been made available to address the urgent need for adaptation in developing countries.
“Reducing emissions is in everyone’s interests, and many of the necessary tools are already available”, said Ambassador Williams. Recent studies show that the cost for developed countries of achieving a 40 per cent reduction by 2020 is as low as 0.5 to 1.5% of GDP by 2020. This is a small price to pay when compared with the anticipated skyrocketing of costs for developing countries to adapt to a warmer world.
Looking forward, Bruno Sekoli said that upcoming meetings in the
“We need to see the leadership and ambition that is often claimed in the media, but in reality, has yet to emerge in the negotiating room”, said Ambassador Williams. “The window of opportunity is closing quickly.