‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers

GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORTGLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORT

“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.

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The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change advocacy calls for more ‘action’ response to Ardern’s UN plea

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently addressed the UN General Assembly about the reality of climate change in the Pacific, and the threat inaction holds for the island nations. Maxine Jacobs reports for Asia Pacific Journalism that while climate and energy commentators welcome her leadership, they call for an even stronger “action” approach.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s challenge to United Nations members last month to reflect on the impact climate change is having on the Pacific has been welcomed by social justice advocates.

But they would like to see the rhetoric matched by even stronger action to give the world its “best shot”.

The Prime Minister spoke of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands as the Pacific’s most at risk nations which have contributed least to global emissions but are facing the full force of their consequences.

ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNALISM STUDIES – APJS NEWSFILE

“Our actions in the wake of this global challenge remains optional, But the impact of inaction does not,” she told the UN.

“If my Pacific neighbours do not have the option of opting out of the effects of climate change, why should we be able to opt out of taking action to stop it?”

Ardern said that in the South Pacific there was a reality of rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather events and negative impacts on water supply and agriculture.

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“For those who live in the South Pacific, the impacts of climate change are not academic, or even arguable.

‘Grinding reality’
“We can talk all we like about the science and what it means … but there is a grinding reality in hearing someone from a Pacific island talk about where the sea was when they were a child, and potential loss of their entire village as an adult.”


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the United Nations. Video: UN

Although New Zealand represents less than 0.2 percent of global emissions, the Prime Minister then vowed to “play our part” in continuing to decrease in emissions and support the global climate change battle.

Goals have been set of:

• 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2035;
• zero emissions by 2050;
• a halt on offshore oil and gas exploration permits;
• a green infrastructure fund to encourage innovation, and
• a 10-year plan to plan one billion trees.

“These plans are unashamedly ambitious [but] the threat climate change poses demands it.”

Real commitment
A few days before her address to the UN in New York, the Prime Minister announced a $100 million increase to its global climate finance – an increase from $200 million, which will be spread in $25 million blocks over four years.

The Prime Minister said the additional funding would focus on practical action, helping Pacific states to build resilience and adapt to climate change.

“The focus of this financial support is on creating new areas of growth and opportunity for Pacific communities. We want to support our Pacific neighbours to make transition to a low carbon economy without hurting their existing economic base.”

The Prime Minister said she planned to bring greater attention to the impact of climate change alongside Pacific leaders and ensure global awareness of the cost of inaction.

“We recognise our neighbours in the Pacific region are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“We have a responsibility to care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic boarders.”

Communications accounts manager for the Ministry for the Environment, Karen Goldsworthy, says two thirds of the global climate funding would be going towards Pacific nations to help adapt to their warming climate.

“We recognise that New Zealand alone cannot fix the challenge climate change poses to our region: it is a global problem that requires a global solution.

“New Zealand will continue to work actively to contribute to an effective global response to climate change through which Pacific resilience improves … and lose work more widely to encourage ambition through our leadership.”

A global model
Renewable energy and climate change consultant Dr Bob Lloyd, a former director of energy studies at Otago University, says New Zealand’s commitment to climate change is a show of leadership to the rest of the world of what is achievable.

Lloyd called New Zealand a small-scale model of what can be achieved on a global scale, however this issue is one which cannot be resolved by one small nation.

“It’s up to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Europe and unfortunately the US to bring their emissions down.

“The big dilemma at the moment is that a lot of the poor countries want to increase their emissions and they’re not going to consider bringing their emissions down unless the big countries bring their emissions down first.

“The other onus is on the rich countries to actually help the poor countries come down, which means they need to transfer money to them to achieve their goals.”

Lloyd said the extra $100 million from New Zealand towards the global climate change fund was a good effort but would not have a huge impact. To achieve emissions reductions, developing countries would need trillions of dollars.

“The amounts of money which are needed just for the Pacific region – which are tiny compared to the rest of the world – are enormous,” he said.

Putting over ideas
Although Lloyd, a self-proclaimed pessimist, thinks the world would not be able to outrun climate change he does not want to stop people from giving it their “best shot”.

“Without some countries trying, then the poorer countries and other countries will give up completely, so I think it’s extremely good that Jacinda is putting these ideas over and they’re trying to help as much as possible.

“She’s doing a remarkable effort. It’s also enthusing government. I was pleasantly surprised at how much influence Jacinda and the Labour Party is having on both New Zealand and internationally.”

Dr Kevin Clements, the foundation professor of Otago University’s National Centre for Peace  and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and current director of the Japan-based Toda Peace Institute, says the Prime Minister’s plea for climate change awareness has powerful emotional and normative appeal, but at the end of the day it is a numbers game.

“Every little bit helps. New Zealand’s voice on its own isn’t going to change Donald Trump or the behaviours of the major US multinational companies, but on the other hand it’s all part of creating a normative order which acknowledges the centrality of climate change and what it’s doing to us.”

Dr Clements says the Pacific is feeling the brunt of global emissions and has little capacity to do anything about it. However, the moral weight of New Zealand and the South Pacific can help larger nations become more proactive.

The Prime Minister advocating for climate change issues humanises her, says Dr Clements, but she needs to be stronger to be seen as a serious political leader on these issues.

“She really needs to make sure she’s coupling her soft power appeal and her own personal charisma with some hard-headed arguments and evidence based research so she is seen both as a wonderful human being but equally as a hard-headed negotiator on the issues that matter.”

Maxine Jacobs is a postgraduate student journalist on the Asia Pacific Journalism Studies course at AUT University.

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Listen to Pacific ‘voices’ or climate will spark conflict, say advocates

Policy makers, academics and NGO representatives discussed the urgent issue of climate change in the Pacific, where many communities have been forced to relocate. However, Michael Andrew of Asia Pacific Report, found that participants in last weekend’s workshop believe the Pacific voices of those most affected must be heard if conflict is to be avoided.

The gap between policy and people was a key topic at the last week’s Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop when experts from Western and Pacific countries gathered to share stories and studies.

The Auckland event – hosted by the Toda Peace Institute and the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at the University of Otago – sought to bridge the gap by connecting Western, scientific policies with the deeply spiritual customs and beliefs of Pacific life.

Workshop facilitator and Toda director Professor Kevin Clements, who is also founding director of NCPACS, says it is an opportunity to understand Pacific perspectives and respond creatively to an existential threat.

READ MORE: The climate change workshop and policy papers

ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNALISM STUDIES – APJS NEWSFILE

“We in New Zealand and Australia have a deep responsibility to listen,” he says.

“If we don’t understand the Pacific way of thinking, we will begin to undermine relationships in unanticipated, unconscious ways.”

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Relationships were a major theme throughout the workshop, with many participants affirming the unique relationship Pacific people have with their land.

Vanua philosophy
Fijian teacher Rosiana Kushila Lagi says the traditional Fiji philosophy of Vanua reflects the absolute interconnectedness between people, land and sea.

Working in Tuvalu, Lagi is engaging communities to use the principals of Vanua to mitigate the destruction caused by climate change. The behaviour of animals, plants and the weather are all useful indicators of environmental change and can be used to prepare for extreme events.

However, she says many communities are losing this traditional knowledge when they are physically separated from the land, something that also contributes to a loss of identity.

Participants of the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop in Auckland last weekend. Image: Lynley Brown

Tuvaluan minister Tafue Lusama shared a similar perspective, stressing the importance of traditional knowledge in the Tuvalu way of life.

“Indigenous knowledge is the way we focus our relationship to everything, to the land, to the sea, to each other and to all living things,” he says.

“It is our way to communicate with the clouds, birds, plants, animals; this includes communicating with the spirits of our ancestors.”

With an average height of 2m above sea level, Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to the affects of climate change. Rising sea levels not only threaten property but also food and water sources.

Storm surges
Storm surges can sweep inland, flooding deep-rooted crops like taro and coconut and contaminating fresh water reservoirs.

Yet for many communities who have already relocated, the struggles of adjusting to a new home can be just as harsh.

Discussed at the workshop were the people from the diminishing Carteret Islands, who in recent years have been relocated to land donated by the Catholic Church on mainland Bougainville.

Managed by grassroots organisation Tulele Peisa, the initiative sees every family given a hectare of land on which they can live and grow crops for trade and sustenance.

While the relocation project has been considered successful, there are concerns for the Cataract Islanders living in a region recovering from a bloody civil war over the Panguna copper mine. Even today, violence is widespread.

According to Volker Boege, a peace and conflict academic who has worked extensively in the region, there have been reports of attacks on the Carteret Islanders and their property.

He says this has a lot to do with tribal competition over limited land, much of which is customary.

Establishing relationships
“Before the relocation, Tulele Peisa put in a lot of work establishing relationships with the Bougainville community and engaging in discussions with the chiefs. Nevertheless, land is scarce,” Boege says.

“The policies don’t take into account the complexities between the indigenous people and the fighting that can occur between tribes when relocated.”

Despite predictions that the Carteret Islands will be completely underwater by 2040, he says some of the people are choosing to return home from Bougainville.

For these people giving up home, identity and starting a new life in a foreign land is simply too much to ask.

While other Pacific communities are on the list for relocation, there was a commitment among the workshop participants to factor in the values, customs and wishes of both the relocating and the receiving communities into any polices moving forward.

Future collaboration between the many organisations present would also allow an inclusive, dynamic approach where information could be easily shared from the top down and vice versa, connecting the grassroots to the researchers and policy makers.

Ideal outcome
For Paulo Baleinakorodawa, this was an ideal outcome of the workshop. As operations manager of Fiji-based NGO Transcend Oceania, he has worked extensively with relocated and relocating communities, resolving conflict and trying to make the process as peaceful as possible.

However, he says that plans for cross-organisation collaboration have stalled prior to the workshop.

“I was hoping that coming in here I would find an opportunity to actually push that into more actions,” he says.

“It’s been wonderful because there has been a lot of information, a lot of networking and commitment from people that are actually doing something about climate change.”

“And so now Toda, Transcend Oceania, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and the Pacific Centre for Peace Building are going to be partnering together to continue that project.”

While climate change and its affects will only continue to worsen, the workshop was an encouraging show of unity and compassion that will be needed if further suffering in Pacific is to be prevented.

Most importantly, it opened an essential conversation in which the many different voices could be heard.

“This is only the beginning of that conversation,” says Baleinakorodawa.

Michael Andrew is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

Professor Kevin Clements facilitating the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop. Image: Michael Andrew/PMC

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Adaptation, mitigation and relocation – only Pacific choices, says academic

Pacific climate change challenges … tough choices. Image: PMC File

By Rahul Bhattarai

A leading academic on peace research issues has called for increased policy making efforts to face up to the challenges of Pacific “relocation” at a weekend conference of global climate and conflict researchers.

“A major conflict-creating component of climate change in the Pacific is the forced reallocation of people,” said Professor Kevin Clements, founding director of Otago University’s National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and also secretary-general of the Tokyo-based Toda Peace Institute.

“Pacific nations only have three choices – adaptation, mitigation and relocation,” he said.

READ MORE: Climate change and security big focus for Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru

Climate change scholars from around the world gathered at the University of Otago’s Auckland Centre over the weekend to discuss interrelationships between climate change and conflict.

Pacific Island nations are in the front line of global climate change crises, raising sea level and “drowning” lands are forcing thousands of islanders to relocate far away from their homelands and atolls.

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This forced reallocation created a fertile ground for conflict in the other Pacific nations, Professor Clements said.

Existential challenge
Failure to make the needed changes in time would impose an “inevitable existential challenge to us all”.

Failure to adapt or mitigate the negative effects of climate change would ultimately result in forced relocations, “forcing people from your own land unto other people’s land and so that’s really beginning to be a major conflict creator in Fiji.”

“Climate change is a major existential challenge for everybody,” Professor Clements said.

Policy makers still had no solid plan to deal with conflict created by climate change.

Dealing with the issues of climate change and conflict was one of the questions which were difficult to answer.

“How do states and peoples create spaces of inevitable migration of people of these countries,” asked Professor Clements.

“Every Pacific nation has been challenged by a combination of elevated sea level and king tides.”

Significant challenge
Having these two combinations posed a significant challenge to the local environment.

“Arable land diminishes, and water quality diminishes as it becomes more saline, and with global warming is also challenging and declining fish resources,” he said.

“Pacific Island countries need to ask themselves, what do they need to adapt these new challenges How can they mitigate their effects and, if they can’t do that, where will they go?” Professor Clements said.

Dr Bob Lloyd, a climate change consultant for Pacific countries, said it was “extremely difficult” to make the public aware of the gravity of climate change.

This was because “people don’t listen” and people complained that there was a disconnect between the scientists and prejudiced knowledge that local communities had.

“When you talk to communities about the problem and give them the solutions and they don’t want to listen because solutions involve considerable social and economic deprivation,” he said.

One way climate change could be minimised was through reduced use of short and long-distance transportation as the Pacific used an enormous amount of air transport for commuting, he said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed during her United Nations diplomacy mission last week that the government was looking into tweaking the recently announced increase of refugees quota from 1500 from 1000 by 2020 to focus on climate refugees, reports Newshub.

Rahul Bhattarai is a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalist who is a reporter on the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project.

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Elisabeth Holland: Pacific climate change persistence – we’re all in the same canoe

The University of the South Pacific’s environmental centre spearheading climate change research believes in working together for shared solutions, says Professor Elisabeth Holland.  Video: Pacific Media Centre’s Bearing Witness project

INTERVIEW: Lars Ursin of 2°C talks to Elisabeth Holland

The Pacific Islands are already struggling with the consequences of climate change. But they are not giving in. Instead, they have become a force to be reckoned with in international climate diplomacy. How did that happen?

2°C: How are the Pacific Islands experiencing the effects of global warming today?

Elisabeth Holland: Tropical cyclone Winston’s 40-metre waves, that is one thing. The devastating peak winds of both tropical cyclones Pam and Winston, and the destructive storm surges they brought. The fact that recovery after Winston amounted to 30 percent of Fiji’s GDP. Also in Fiji, 676 of around 1800 villages have already said they need to move. Not just from storm surges, but from repeated inundation due to rising sea level or changing storm patterns. Or coastal erosion generated by storm surges and rising sea levels.

In Fiji, we now recommend that all newly married couples move to higher ground. This is because it is tradition to build new housing for newlyweds to give the communities a head start on the inevitable transition. The transitions needs to happen in a methodical, well-organised way with community buy-in.

What areas of the Pacific Islands are most vulnerable to further climate change?

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That would be Tuvalu, Kiribati, The Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tokelau. What they have in common, is a maximum elevation of 3 metres. They are along with the Maldives part of what is called the Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change.

Days after Cyclone Winston made landfall on Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu in February 2016, this was what was left of the Rakiraki Market. It used to house more than 200 vendors, but was devastated by the cyclone’s record-breaking winds. Pacific Islanders fear global warming will yield even more frequent and devastating storms in the future. Image: Anna Parinicbnd/UN Women

What is the outlook for the people living on these islands?

The new government of New Zealand is considering setting new immigration policy for their Pacific Island neighbours. Fiji is the only country which has said it would receive climate displaced refugees from the Pacific. Three countries, The Federated States of Micronesia, The Marshall Islands and Palau are part of the Compact of Free Association with the United States and eligible for US passports giving them the right to live, work and study in the USA. Migration, already underway, is to Hawai’i where the provision of some basic services can discriminate against people from these areas.

What practical measures are taken to prevent escalating damage?

There are several issues. Most important is what communities need today to be vibrant and healthy: Fresh water. So, for example, we have provided water tanks and reticulated water systems for more than 12.000 people, funded by the EU. Many of the Pacific Island countries have just begun to access the Green Climate Fund. Tuvalu residents refuse to leave, they say they will adapt. Their funds will be focused on coastal stabilisation, such as sea walls. Marshall Islands are considering which islands to sacrifice to protect the remaining islands. Tokelau has just gotten green climate funding. They are making similar decisions.

‘Migration with dignity’
And Kiribati, under president Anote Tong, a vocal climate spokesperson, has advocated “migration with dignity”. He is focused on ensuring that his population is as well-educated as possible, while at same time taking adaptative measures. Tokelau, by the way, claim to be first 100% renewable energy country, under a project funded by New Zealand.

At the Paris negotiations, you were ringside when the Pacific Islands announced an the High Ambition Coalition with the US and EU, that eventually paved the way for the Paris Agreement. Can you explain what happened?

First, when the High Ambition Coaltion was made public on Tuesday of the second week of negotiations, it was actually forged – in secrecy – during the Cartagena-dialogue earlier in the year. That strategy came about as a result of having learned the lessons of the failed Copenhagen negotiations when no developing country partners were part of the coalition.

That all changed in Paris. First of all, we were better prepared. We had worked with the French Embassy in preparing for the Paris COP. We had worked with the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Pacific leaders to draft the Suva declaration on Climate Change. The Pacific leaders drafted more than 10 declarations in the lead up to Paris. And still, we were plagued with self-doubt. I remember I met the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, on the airport on the way to Paris. She said: “I am afraid we haven’t done our strategic homework”. My reply was “I hope you are wrong”. And in the end, it took a lot of patience and persistence, and the determination of Pacific leaders.

In the Paris COP, I was a delegate for the Solomon Islands. My job was to make sure they had the best science available. So on Monday of the second week, during the high-level negotiations, I sat all night doing calculations for 1.5°C. And the results were upsetting, because it showed that we had less than 10 years before the 1.5 C goal was unattainable. Our press conference on the 1.5°C target was held at the same time as the Minister Tony deBrum’s announcement of the High Ambition Coalition.

However, in addition to representing the Solomon Islands, I was also informing the rest of the Pacific delegations. Also, a lot of my former students were now delegates – 20 in total – both for the Solomon Islands, but also with various other states. In addition, twice a year, I am invited by the secretariat of the ACP – a group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states – to present the science to the ACP ambassadors in Brussels.

So, when I was approached by Pendo Maro, the climate coordinator for the EU ACP secretariat, we marched across the Paris campus, I knew we had 79 countries in my pocket. By the end of Wednesday, 100 countries had signed onto the High Ambition Coation.

Imagine: After all the drafting had been done in Paris, Tony deBrum walked into the room, flanked by the EU and US lead climate negotiators, and they were given a standing ovation. That is the level of support they enjoyed. Because each of the Pacific countries had done their best in pulling in their respective coalitions. And I had no idea what I was doing at the time. I Just knew that when I was invited by the ACP to present the science, I had to do the best I could to deliver the message as clearly as I could.

This time around, all were committed to stand together. There were no breakaways.
Generally, in diplomatic negotiations like this, big countries like China or India will try to divide one Pacific Island off. But this time around, all were committed to stand together, to stand with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). There were no breakaways. We had the leadership of Fiji in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation. Three vocal spokespersons in addition. Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu. Minister deBrum of the Marshall Islands. President Anote Tong of Kiribati. Because they were most vulnerable countries, the rest of the Pacific let them carry the torch and word out to the rest of the world. But every other Pacific country was behind them, doing their negotiations, backing the high points.

What role have the nations of the South Pacific played since?

In Morocco, Fiji was given the COP23 presidency, and there have been a number of accomplishments under that presidency. One is the Indigenous Peoples’ Platform. A second one was the Gender Action Plan. And, finally, the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. But in addition to all of this, oceans are now being included in the climate negotiations.

What do you mean by that?

If you look in the text of the Paris Agreement, the word “oceans” is named only once. And yet, we all know how important oceans are in the global climate system. Therefore, we have worked to ensure that there is an Ocean Pathway, to make sure the ocean is featured more prominently in the negotiations to come. Diplomacy is never fast, but because Fiji was also president of the UN in 2017, and we had the UN Oceans Conference in 2017, this was a unique opportunity.

This is of course important to the island states of the South Pacific, whose very livelihood depends on the ocean. But it is also a point of confluence with Norway’s positions. Norway has oceans and climate as a priority as well.

And finally, the COP presidency will be handed over to Poland at COP24 in Katowice. However, Poland has asked Fiji to play a role going forwards, to help see the Talanoa facilitative dialogue through.

Speaking of which: Can you briefly explain the Talanoa dialogue and what it is meant to achieve?

There is a great description of it at the COP23 website. But essentially it is this: When people in a Fijian community want to come to a resolution, they convene a meeting. That meeting is called a Talanoa. Everybody comes as equal partners, respected, and in anticipation of being heard. It is done in a circle, generally kava is served to honour everybody. All participants’ views and perspectives are put on the table. And together, participants weave the cloth of the way forward.

This is an idealised description, of course. But it comes from the principle that we are all in the same canoe. And it is the Talanoa that will lay the foundation for the Paris rulebook, and the process called the global stock take. That is a key part in the five-year review process: Taking stock of emissions and comparing them to the temperature targets. And then, based on that, deciding on commitments and the way forward.

But can you actually produce results through that type of process?

Remember, Fiji is a country of less than 850,000 people. And yet, it is by way of the principles of participating in Talanoa that they achieved their role as both president of the UN and COP-president at the same time. So, does that mean that they have a better long term strategic focus?

In the year before, in 2016, Fiji also won an Olympic gold for rugby. Rugby is a strategic game. But so is Pacific diplomacy. Because it always puts the collective first. It is a way of thinking – not about one, but about all.

Is it also about shaking up the rules of the diplomacy game, to allow countries to approach the negotiations in new ways?

The Pacific Islands rank among the very top of disaster prone countries. But they also rank with the highest happiness indices.

Absolutely. Because they know they can trust one another. There is an interesting contrast: The Pacific Islands rank among the very top of disaster prone countries, because of tropical cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. But they also rank with the highest happiness indices. And it is not because we are rich. And definitely not because we see ourselves as victims.

Going forward from Paris, what are the greatest obstacles facing the negotiations?

The unravelling of the commitment to high ambition. That is the biggest obstacle.

How can that be overcome?

By leading by example. Whether it is us as individuals, companies, cities or nations, the principle to begin with is leading by example. When the Copenhagen negotiations fell apart, Tony deBrum walked out, and he was wearing a flowered shirt. So the press could immediately identify him as being a Pacific Islander. A reporter asked him: “Minister deBrum, are you here to save your island?” to which he responded: “No, I’m here to save the world”.

That is the thinking we need. That we as small Pacific islands can become champions, not just for ourselves, but for the planet. And that we can achieve that through leading by example. And this is also why we through generations have set aside marine protected areas. It is part of our tradition. We are truly ocean stewards.

What role has scientists such as yourself played in the actual climate negotiations up until now?

Science without strategy, without key countries committed to it, and without good legal thinking, gets you nowhere. No matter how compelling.

The science come into the negotiations in in a couple of different ways. One is through the IPCC. That is a completely separate process, and not formally connected to UNFCCC. But the UNFCCC was formulated to include science perspectives. And it does so through the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice, or SBSTA.

But science without strategy, without key countries committed to it, and without good legal thinking, gets you nowhere. No matter how compelling. That part is hard for scientists to swallow. Because diplomatic negotiations are more about relationships than they are about science.

Leading up to Paris, we had something called the Structured Expert Dialogue, and the 2013-2015 Review. The 2013-2015 Review was a compelling report. That was where they asked the scientific community to take a look at the IPCC and all the available evidence to provide guidance on things like long term temperature goals. Like 1.5°C or 2°C warming. That we did, and in the intersessional between Lima and Paris, we got 1.5°C into the formal text of the Research and Systematic Observation report. And that then became the platform by which we could push through the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) and into the Paris Agreement. You can’t just ask for goals like that in a plenary session during negotiations, you need to work it into the other framework first.

However, the Saudis – and others – blocked the SED 2013-2015 Review report. By the end of the first week, we had no formal consensus that could have informed the Paris negotiations. But we had to close the two subsidiary bodies, SBSTA and SBI – the Subsidiary body for Implementation – to go to the second week, the high-level negotiations.

And it was not until Saturday night that first week that Amena Yauvoli, Fiji, gavelled the Structured Expert Dialogue. With that gavelling, there was a formal legal obligation for science to inform the negotiations. The text of the Paris agreement calls for for a global stocktake to be informed by “the best available science”.

So in the end science prevailed, but only because of good diplomacy and skilful negotiations. And that is something a lot of scientists find difficult to come to terms with. Which is understandable. After all, many of us were attracted to science to begin with because we are attracted to a world defined by black and white rather than grey. However, diplomacy is an exploration of the grey.

How can climate scientists contribute constructively in shaping climate policy in the future?

First, ensure the integrity of science and scientific processes. Second, participate fully in the IPCC processes. Third, make sure that the science can be “translated” and communicated so others can use it for evidence-based decision making.

And finally, understand that the science-policy interface requires time. And is challenging. And requires a lot of dialogue. That may sometimes be frustrating to scientists.

University of the South Pacific’s Professor Elisabeth Holland. Image: 2°C

INTERVIEW FACT FILE:
Name: Elisabeth Holland
Position: Professor, University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Why: Holland is a renowned climate scientist. She has been a central figure in the international climate negotiations and has been a visiting scholar at the Bjerknes Center for Climate Research this year.

This article has been republished from the Norwegian ezine 2°C with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

More frontline research ‘by Pacific for Pacific’ plea at climate summit

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: More frontline research ‘by Pacific for Pacific’ plea at climate summit

Trailer for the controversial climate change documentary Anote’s Ark – former Kiribati President Anote Tong opened the first Pacific Climate Change Conference in Wellington in 2016.

By David Robie at Te Papa

A recent Andy Marlette cartoon published by the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, depicted a bathtub-looking Noah’s Ark with a couple of stony-faced elephants on board with a sodden sign declaring “Climate change is a hoax”.

The other animals on board floating to safety were muttering among themselves: “The elephants won’t admit that these 100-year events are happening once a month …”

At the other end of the globe in Wellington this week for the second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Museum, I encountered a fatalistic message from a Tongan taxi driver counting down the hours before the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the New Zealand capital after wreaking a trail of devastation in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

He had it all worked out: “We don’t need climate conferences,” he said. “Just trust in God and we’ll survive.”

However, a key takeaway message from the three-day conference was just how urgent action is needed by global policymakers, especially for the frontline states in the Pacific – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, where none of the sprawling atolls that make up those countries are higher than 2m above sea level.

Many of the predictions in assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are being revised as being too cautious or are already exceeded.

The hosting Victoria University of Wellington’s Antarctic Research Centre director Professor Tim Naish, for example, says the sea level rise from the ice sheet from the frozen continent may be double the earlier estimates and could by rise by 2m by 2100.

Bleak news for the Pacific at least. Glaciologist Dr Naish is working on a project to improve estimates of sea level rise in New Zealand and the Pacific.

A Pacific Climate Warrior … from a slide by activist lawyer Julian Aguon of Guam. Image: PMC

More Pacific research needed
Another critical takeaway message was the vital need for “more Pacific research, by the Pacific and for the Pacific”, as expressed by 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Professor Elizabeth Holland, director of the University of the South Pacific’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD).

Many of the global models drawn from average statistics are not too helpful for the specifics in the Pacific where climate change is already a daily reality.

Dr Holland was a keynote speaker on the final day. Describing herself as a “climate accountant” making sense of the critical numbers and statistics, she said it was vital that indigenous Pacific knowledge was being partnered with the scientists to develop strategies especially tailored for the “frontline region”.

“Local research in the region is of utmost importance, leading to informed development choices and is the best way forward as it creates a direct connection between the research and the communities once it is implemented” she says.

“Our Big Ocean States are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and remote research does not suffice, calling for the creation of leaders and experts locally through joint Pacific-led research.”

USP’s Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Professor Elizabeth Holland … “connecting the dots for Big Oceans States”. Image: David Robie/PMC

Scientists, researchers and postgraduate students were at Te Papa in force among the 240 delegates or so at the conference.

Deputy director Dr Morgan Wairiu was among them, speaking on “Engaging Pacific Islands on SRM Geoengineering Research”.

USP is one of only two regional universities in the world – the other is in the Caribbean. Its PaCE-SD is a centre for excellence in environmental education and engagement, and a global climate change research leader, especially with its focus on the Pacific region and island countries.

The university has 12 member countries with campuses or centres in each.

Local researchers are highly motivated and passionate about studies dealing with the effects of the changes occurring in their environment first hand.

Professor Michael Mann … countering the “madhouse effect” caused by the climate change deniers. Image: David Robie/PMC

The conference speakers included some the leading and innovative global climate science thinkers and advocates, such as Dr Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University.

He is the author of several revealing books on the subject, including The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying our Politics, and Driving us Crazy, and The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars, who spoke about “Dire predictions” in a keynote.

“There are droughts, wildfires and floods that are occurring now that are without any precedent in the historical record and where we can now use modelling simulations, climate models,” he says.

“You can run two parallel simulations. You can run a simulation where the carbon dioxide levels are left at pre-industrial levels, and a parallel simulation where you increase those levels in response to the burning of fossil fuels. And you can look at how often a particular event happened.”

Perhaps the most innovative ideas speaker over the three days was Dr Daniel Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood professor of energy at Harvard University, with his groundbreaking research on renewable energy, especially the solar fuels process of photosynthesis – a process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight.

He developed the artificial leaf from this theory, a project named by Time magazine as Innovation of the Year for 2011. Since then he has elaborated this invention with a partner in India to develop a production pilot deploying a complete artificial photosynthetic cycle.

He argues that it is developing countries that may play a more crucial role in harnessing renewable energy discoveries because the massive vested interest infrastuctures built around fossil fuels in Western countries hamper rapid progress.

Many speakers gave an indigenous perspective on climate change, arguing that a holistic approach was needed, not just focusing on the science and political solutions.

Aroha Mead … an indigenous message for a holistic “total package” approach to climate change. Image: David Robie/PMC

Independent researcher Aroha Te Pareake Mead gave an inspiring message about “Indigenous peoples and our knowledge – we’re a total package” and the Mataatua Declaration on the Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples 1993 and what has been achieved since.

The Mana Wahine panel – Associate professor Leonie Pihama, Dr Naomi Simmonds and Assistant Professor Huhana Smith – gave an inspirational sharing on “transforming lives through research”.

Mana Wahine … “transforming lives through research”. Image: David Robie/PMC

Law graduate Sarah Thompson spoke about her legal challenge last year to the previous National-led New Zealand government over the emissions target, and although she eventually lost the High Court case for a judicial review, she opened the door to future climate change lawsuits that may prove more successful.

However, former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Victoria University’s Law Faculty distinguished fellow, was far more cautious, saying that there was better chance of persuading politicians and trying to develop climate change policy through the courts.

He also warned that countries, New Zealand included, would be ignoring an impeding climate change governance upheaval “at their peril”.

Dr D. Kapua Sproat, acting director of Ka Huli Ao Centre for Excellence in Native Hawai’ian Law and director of the Environmental Law clinic at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, said Native Hawai’ians could invoke indigenous rights to environmental self-determination.

Julian Aguon of Guam, founder of boutique Blue Ocean Law, said it was a challenge to confront deep-sea mining negotiators and corporate lawyers in “wild west” style cases in the Pacific.

Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa … what about the climate change activists and West Papuan advocates? Image: David Robie/PMC

Papua New Guinea’s Northern Governor and tribal chief Gary Juffa gave three compelling talks – none of them originally in the programme – on corruption and the barriers it poses for climate action and protecting his country’s forests.

But he also pointed out that more media, climate change frontline activists such as the Climate Warriors, and West Papuan advocates – “where horrendous climate and cultural abuses are happening” – needed to be included in such a conference.

In the concluding panel, the joint Victoria University and SPREP organisers, led by Professor James Renwick and “spiritual leader” Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, pulled together these core themes for going forward for the next conference in two years “somewhere in the Pacific”:

• Urgency of action
• Pacific on the frontline of climate change
• Multiple voices, and legitimacy of Pacific voices
• New, more and better capacity-building in the Pacific
• Action on all fronts – top down and bottom up
• Need more effective laws
• Transformative change is needed

‘We’re losing the climate change battle,’ says Macron

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘We’re losing the climate change battle,’ says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron appeals to the world to do more on climate change. Video: Al Jazeera

French President Emmanuel Macron has delivered a rallying cry to world leaders that more must be done to fight climate change.

But he told a global summit in Paris that they were currently “losing the battle”.

The summit is promoting greater worldwide investment in clean energy, reports Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler.

From Suva, The Fiji Times reports that of the various commitments on climate finance made at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, last month, only a small proportion will be finding its way into supporting climate adaptation or resilience.

Better green funding needed
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made this statement while speaking at the Paris summit, reports Alisi Vucago.

“The data on this is clear. For many donors, this is simply regarded as development assistance. And for private sector investors, the absence of an immediate and apparent economic return on their investment means that funding climate adaptation or resilience efforts are rarely pursued,” said the COP23 co-president.

-Partners-

“The leaders on this panel are fully aware of the need to make substantial investments in our infrastructure to protect against the danger of climate change.”

Bainimarama said Fiji was focused on rebuilding and strengthening our infrastructure in a climate resilient way, with blended finance from institutions like the Green Climate Fund and multilateral development banks to supplement the Fijian government’s own capital investments.

“And we are developing insurance products for the Pacific region which are currently not available for climate-related events, which could be replicated beyond the region,” he said.

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‘The world must act now’ on climate change, calls Bainimarama

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘The world must act now’ on climate change, calls Bainimarama

Fiji’s Prime Minister and COP23 President Voreqe Bainimarama … “do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work”. Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

By Anita Roberts in Bonn, Germany

The Paris Climate Agreement must be implemented swiftly as backing away will expose people to more risks, Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has told world leaders.

Representing Pacific Island countries, Bainimarama, President of the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pleaded for collective action from world leaders to tackle climate change after taking up the position of president from Morocco in Germany yesterday.

The future of life on earth depends on everyone’s choices – everyone must act on climate change, he said, when opening the Climate Planet in Bonn City.

“Our world is in distress from extreme weather events caused by climate change as destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice, and changes to agriculture which threaten food security.

“Thus, the need for urgency is obvious.

-Partners-

“All over the world, vast numbers of people are suffering – bewildered by the forces ranged against them.

“Our job as leaders is to respond to that suffering with all means available.

‘We must not fail our people’
“This includes our capacity to work together to identify opportunities in the transition we must make.

“We must not fail our people.

“That means using the next two weeks and the year ahead to do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020,” Bainimarama said.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) reports Bainimarama also called for climate negotiations to agree to limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“By aiming for 1.5 degrees, we are setting ourselves a serious challenge.

“But it provides us with a mission. It engages our capacity for ingenuity, for organisation and sheer hard work.

 “The only way for every nation to put itself is to lock arms with all other nations and move forward together.

Assist the vulnerable
“We must appeal for a lot more resolve to assist the more vulnerable to adapt to climate change,” he said.

Bainimarama also announced the launch of an ocean pathway to ensure the ocean is an integral part of the UNFCCC process by 2020, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports.

COP23 officially opened on November 6 with a traditional Fijian ceremony and ‘Bula Spirit’.

‘Drua’, a Fijian ocean going canoe in the foyer of the world climate conference serves as a powerful symbol of resilience and unity during the meeting.

It also signifies the resilience of the ancient culture of the Pacific in the face of adverse impacts of climate change.

Climate talks in Bonn continue until November 17.

Anita Roberts is a reporter with the Vanuatu Daily Post. She is among ten journalists from the Pacific invited by the German Foreign Affairs Ministry to COP23 as part of a competition reflecting the importance of this year’s COP to small Pacific Island countries.

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VIDEO Paul Buchanan and Selwyn Manning: Message from America – Climate Change and the Threat of a Korean War: Trumps Defining Moment

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: VIDEO Paul Buchanan and Selwyn Manning: Message from America – Climate Change and the Threat of a Korean War: Trumps Defining Moment

Message from America – Climate Change and the Threat of a Korean War: Trumps Defining Moment. In this episode Dr Paul G. Buchanan and Selwyn Manning discuss Hurricane Irma and its devastating track across the Caribbean and its looming threat on Florida.

Will this, the latest in a series of severe Atlantic born storms cause US President Donald Trump to accept Climate Change is real?

Also, how should Trump handle the intensifying nuclear threat from North Korea?

Is there a role for New Zealand, as an independent Pacific Island state, to broker talks between North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States similar to the Five Nations talks of the 2000s?

Is a multilateral response via the United Nations a better way forward for independent states rather than forward-committing to a US-led conflict should hostilities intensify further?

MIL Video: This video is copyright to Paul G. Buchanan (36th-Parallel.com) and Multimedia Investments Ltd (MIL) (EveningReport.nz).

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 25 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn is former co-founder of 36th Parallel Assessments (36th-Parallel.com) and has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.