World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Authors of the current IPCC reporting cycle in Fiji – Dr Helene Jacot Des Combe (from left), Dr Morgan Wairiu, Professor Elisabeth Holland and Diana Salili. Image: USP/Wansolwara

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C

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The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change documentary about Kiribati wins top FIFO prize

Anote’s Ark trailer

By RNZ Pacific

A Canadian film about climate change in Kiribati and the Pacific has won the top prize at the 16th Pacific Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia.

The film, Anote’s Ark by Matthieu Rytz, looked at the plight of Kiribati and former President Anote Tong who championed the Pacific human rights struggle over climate change.

Tong was president of his country between 2003 and 2016.

READ MORE: The FIFO 2019 film festival

The special prize of the jury went to Island of the Hungry Ghosts from Austrian director Gabrielle Brady.

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The prize of the public went to a local production Patutiki, the art of tattooing of the Marquesas Islands by Heretu Tetahiotupa and Christophe Cordier.

About 30,000 people attended the week-long event in the Tahitian capital of Pape’ete.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Precarious politics pose threats to world’s three biggest rainforests

By Sara Stefanini

Political uncertainty hangs over large swathes of the world’s tropical forests this year, raising the risk of more destruction and carbon emissions.

Recent leadership changes in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and presidential elections in Indonesia in April, are fuelling concerns that politics could side with industries such as palm oil, timber, mining and agriculture in the world’s three biggest rainforest countries.

Brazil’s new right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on promises to open the Amazon up to development. In his first foray on the international stage last week, he called on international businesses to invest in the country’s natural resources.

READ MORE: France aims to ban deforestation imports by 2030

The DRC’s peaceful presidential election of Felix Tshisekedi last month was the first democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960 – although the African Union and European Union questioned the results and The Financial Times reported “massive electoral fraud”.

It now remains to be seen whether Tshisekedi’s government curbs forest clearing and cracks down on the corruption that undermines conservation efforts. He gave little indication during the campaign.

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Meanwhile in Indonesia, the two presidential candidates – incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo  and ex-army officer Prabowo Subianto – have given vague promises of environmental protection but few details. That said, Jokowi, who won as an outsider populist in 2014, has done more than some expected to tackle deforestation.

As of 2015, Brazil was home to 12 percent of total forest global cover, the DRC nearly 4 percent and Indonesia 2 percent, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. But tree cover in all three nations continues to shrink.

Worst effects
The actions of the new governments could determine the world’s ability to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.

“Forests could provide about a third of the solution to climate change, but at the moment they’re more part of the problem because of deforestation,” said Tim Christophersen, head of UN Environment’s freshwater, land and climate branch in Kenya.

“If that was stopped and we could restore forests at a large scale, we could probably close about a third of the current emissions gap.”

For now, efforts to stem deforestation have mostly failed to make a dent. The tropics lost an area the size of Vietnam over 2016 and 2017, when tree cover shrunk by record levels, according to the data and monitoring website Global Forest Watch.

Brazil’s deforestation in 2017 was equivalent to 365 million tonnes of CO2 and jumped by almost 50 percent over the three months of campaigning before Bolsonaro was elected last year. The DRC’s tree cover loss was equivalent to 158Mt last year and Indonesia’s to 125Mt.

Environmentalists are particularly concerned about Brazil. In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Bolsonaro stressed Brazil’s history of environmental protection while touting its economic opportunities.

But the “wave of forest destruction and violence” started when Bolsonaro immediately removed environmental and human rights safeguards, said Christian Poirier, programme director at the NGO Amazon Watch.

Reckless moves
“These reckless moves, tailored to serve Brazil’s agribusiness and extractive industries, undermine fundamental constitutional protections that preserve forests and assure the safety of the indigenous and traditional communities who call them home,” he said.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, deforestation remains relatively high and driven by clearing for agriculture, the use of wood for energy, timber and mining, said Christophersen.

The UN’s REDD+ programme, which pays developing countries to reduce their deforestation, is starting to work in some places. But it was forced to freeze payments to the government last year amid concerns over the awarding of new logging concessions to Chinese companies. Peatlands across the Congo Basin could release huge stocks of carbon if developed for mining and fossil fuels, Christophersen added.

There is more optimism around Indonesia, although environmentalists are still wary.

Jokowi initially raised concerns that he would not follow through on his predecessor’s commitments on forestry, but then made progressive moves such as creating a new peatland restoration agency and extending a 2011 moratorium on licenses in forest and peatland, said Frances Seymour, distinguished senior fellow at the World Resources Institute.

Still, it will be up to the next president to cement that ban and push Indonesia’s large palm oil industry to become more sustainable, said Panut Hadisiswoyo, founding director of the Orangutan Information Centre in Indonesia. The country has around 69 percent of its natural forest intact, he said.

“I worry that with the current visions of the presidential candidates, they have no specific calls for the protection of this remaining forest,” Hadisiswoyo said. “This natural forest is the last limit for sustaining our biodiversity. I worry that this forest will have no guarantee to strive, to be kept as forest.”

Good signs
There are some good signs. Costa Rica’s tree cover grew from 20 perecent to around 50 percent over 30 years, Christophersen noted. And Indonesia’s loss dropped by 60 percent year-on-year in 2017, which Global Forest Watch attributed in part to a 2016 moratorium on peat drainage, educational campaigns and stronger enforcement.

“Without political leadership, we would not see with those kinds of successes,” Christophersen said.

However the potential for more damage remains strong – especially at a time of more nationalistic populist leaders such as Bolsonaro.

“A cross-cutting issue is how this global wave of populism plays out in the climate change debate, and in these countries how it plays out with respect to land use in particular,” said Seymour.

  • France intends to stop importing soy, palm oil, beef, wood and other products linked to deforestation and unsustainable agriculture by 2030, shooting ahead of the rest of the European Union, reports Climate Change News.

The new national strategy to combat imported deforestation, released by the environment ministry late last year, will use trade to help decouple economic development from tree-cutting and unsustainable agriculture in poorer countries.

Sara Stefanini is a senior journalist with Climate Change News.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji warns ‘selfish’ countries amid Paris Agreement climate rulebook deadlock

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … urging world leaders to summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty to clean energy. Image: Fiji Times

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Talks to draft the Paris Agreement rulebook remained deadlocked today on traditionally tough issues.

Emerging economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – stood their ground on financial aid and the division of rich and poor countries.

Others vented their frustration. The UN chief flew back to Poland with a message that failure would be “immoral” and “suicidal”, Fiji’s prime minister said it would be “craven, irresponsible and selfish”, and a coalition of countries born in the Paris talks in 2015 was resurrected, with a call to arms.

READ MORE: Make the ‘clean energy’ switch, urges Fiji’s Bainimarama

Businesses are outpacing national governments in rolling out zero emission vehicles across Europe, North America and New Zealand, says The Climate Group as another five leading companies have joined its corporate leadership initiative EV100 and pledged to electrify their fleets by 2030.

A push has emerged in Poland for countries to step up their climate pledges and Megan Darby of Climate Home News interviews one of the scientists whose work made the world realise it is on the brink.

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With new draft rules written by the Polish Cop24 presidency in hand by yesterday afternoon, and many issues still to be resolved, countries and groups came out swinging for their demands.

For the four Basic emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – it’s all about differentiating their responsibilities from those of rich countries, and firming up the latter’s commitments to provide financial aid.

Commitments not fully met
“There’s a bit of concern that financial commitments, as agreed to in Paris, have not yet fully been met,” said South African tourism minister Tokozile Xasa.

“It’s quite clear, the evidence shows, that not only do we need reliability in the available finance to support of the initiatives, but that the amount allocated is hopelessly inadequate.”

On the question of how the rulebook applies to countries, the group stressed that the Paris Agreement gives developing countries more leniency as they build up abilities to, for instance, track and report emissions.

“There has to be some degree of flexible reassertion of the differentiated approach … and the allowance made for developing countries,” Xasa said.

Is also another man’s Paris Agreement. The Basic group argued that inserting “equal treatment” of developed and developing countries into the rulebook would amount to a “backslide” on the accord.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete countered that the Paris Agreement called for a more flexible differentiation than the developed/developing line of the 1990s.

“We fully respect what we agreed in Paris, but Paris also points out … that we have to have an enhanced transparency system with built-in flexibilities,” he said.

Countries that need flexibility should get it, while their capabilities are built up, he added.

The Green Climate Fund has extended its search for a new executive director to 3 January. Climate Home News understands big hitters like Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and UN desertification chief Monique Barbut have been encouraged to apply, but many potential candidates are deterred by the Songdo location.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific ‘smart’ thinking grows creative tension between policy and research

ANALYSIS: By Professor Derrick Armstrong

A traditional view of the tension between research and policy suggests that researchers are poor at communicating their research findings to policy-makers in clear and unambiguous ways.

I am arguing that this is an outdated view of the relationship between research and policy. Science, including social science, and policy come together in many interesting and creative ways.

This does not mean that tensions between the two are dissolved but the conversation between research and policy centre as much on ideological and pragmatic issues as it does upon the strength of the scientific evidence itself.

READ MORE: The DevNet 2018 conference

Researchers are increasingly “smart” in the ways that they seek to influence public debate while policy-makers genuinely value the insights that research can provide in supporting political and policy agendas that goes beyond simply legitimating pre-existing policy choices.

For example, in climate change debates science cannot be seen simply as an arbiter of “truth” that informs policy and political decision-making. Science also plays an advocacy role in alliance with some social interests against others.

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Likewise, policy can draw on science but it can also reject the evidence of science where scientific evidence is weighed against the interests of other powerful voices in the policy-process.

Oceans research and policy provides a good example of this more sophisticated relationship between science and policy and suggests some of the significant disconnects and tensions that challenge the relationship as well as how creative tensions between the two operate in practice. Three areas of disconnect can be identified.

Practical disconnection
The first of these is practical disconnection of regulation with regard to the Oceans. An integrated legal framework for the ocean might be considered critical for progress towards meeting the objectives of SDG 14 (Life under the Sea) but complexity and fragmentation present many challenges which are both sectorial and geographical.

National laws lack coordination across different ocean-related productive sectors, conservation, and areas of human wellbeing. In addition, these laws are disconnected from the regulation of land-based activities that negatively impact upon the ocean – agriculture, industrial production and waste management (including ocean plastic).

“These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.” Image: David Robie/PMC

These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.

Disconnected science is itself a problem in this area. Ocean science is still weak in most countries due to limited holistic approaches for understanding cumulative impacts of various threats to ocean health such as climate change, pollution, coastal erosion and overfishing.

Equally, scientific understanding of the effectiveness of conservation and management responses is poor, so that the productivity limits and recovery time of ecosystems cannot be easily predicted.

Even when science is making progress, effective science-policy interfaces are often poorly articulated at all levels. As a result, there are significant barriers to effectively measuring progress in reaching SDG14.

Oceans research policies rare
National oceans research policies to support sustainable development are rare. This is compounded by limited understanding of the role of different knowledge systems, notably the traditional knowledge of indigenous people.

Third, there is a disconnected dialogue. Key stakeholders, most notably the communities most dependent on ocean health, are not sufficiently involved in developing and implementing ocean management; yet, they are most disproportionately affected by their negative consequences.

More positively, there are some good examples of effective science-policy diplomacy collaborations and networks. For example, in the Pacific my own university (University of the South Pacific) has worked very effectively to support Pacific island countries, especially Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, to successfully lead arguments at the International Maritime Organisation for international commitments to reduced carbon emission targets for shipping.

Technical, scientific support has been critical to support the advocacy of Pacific leaders and their ability to mobilise wider political support.

Building the capacity to achieve such outcomes within the regions of the world that confront these problems most sharply is a significant challenge. Aid policy can play an Important role in this respect – for example, by supporting capacity building through investment in local institutions such as universities rather than funnelling aid money back into donor countries through consultancies.

The scientific dominance of the global north is every bit as disempowering and threatening as post-colonial political domination.

For countries in the developing world, capacity building in research is critical to supporting their own countries. Another good example of this is found in the High Ambition Pacific coalition led by the Marshall Islands which secured significant support from European countries and elsewhere, in their campaign for a 1.5 degrees emissions target at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015.

Science-policy-advocacy alliance
This coalition was a good example of a science-policy-advocacy alliance which did not come from the global north.

Scientific as well as policy collaborations between the global south and the global north are certainly possible but it also the case that scientific research and intervention in the countries of the south from the outside can very easily reinforce the political domination that politicians and policy-makers from the south so often experience in international forums and through the aid policies bestowed upon them from outside.

The aggressive assertion of the privileges of Western science to do research in developing countries at the expense of building local capacity demonstrates another side of this post-colonial experience. It is impossible to credibly talk of “giving voice to the ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘vulnerable’” where the research practices of outside researchers and their institutions cripple the ability of local researchers to speak.

Yet, researchers in the Pacific are more effectively operating at the cutting-edge of the science-policy interface than many outside the region may understand or recognise.

In our own case at USP, genuine collaboration across the boundaries of south and north have been possible but just as our leaders and our communities have had to fight against patronising notions of “vulnerability” our scientific need is to build our own capacity to effectively engage with the priorities of our own region and its people. We aim to build a scientific and research capacity that is neither dominated by or exploited from outside.

So, in summary, the tensions that have traditionally been used to characterise the science-policy interface greatly oversimplify the reality. They oversimplify it at an abstract level by whether by characterising science as disinterested or by characterising the aim of policy-makers to rational and evidence-based.

They also oversimplify the relationships within and between scientific communities, ignoring the social interests and power structures that serve the continuation, whether intentionally or not, of post-colonial domination, restricting opportunities to build scientific capacity which enables the achievement of locally determined priorities.

Professor Derrick Armstrong is deputy vice-chancellor (research, innovation and international) at the Suva-based University of the South Pacific. This was a presentation made at the concluding “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 “Disruption and Renewal” conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Professor Derrick Armstrong speaking with other members of the final “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 development studies conference. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific voices tell stories of climate change reality in new documentary

A new documentary Subject to Change, a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific, explores the impact of climate change. Video: MFAT

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Two young women students are the driving force who created a new documentary titled Subject to Change which highlights the climate change challenges faced by Pacific people in the region.

Among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, Pacific voices are at the heart of the film which has been premiered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion.

Producer Amiria Ranfurly, who is of Niuean-New Zealand descent, and Polish director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska, are students of Massey University of New Zealand.

READ MORE: AUT’s Bearing Witness climate change project

The young women chose to showcase climate change in their work because of the impact in the region.

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“We wanted to explore the impacts that climate change is having on our world, and Subject to Change is a documentary film that presents a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific,” says Ranfurly.

“With passion and determination, we have created a film that shares insight to New Zealand’s response to the global objectives set by the Paris Agreement, alongside intimate stories from the frontline in a truthful and evocative way.”

Documentary producer Amiria Ranfurly (left) and director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska … “intimate frontline climate stories”. Image: COP24 Pacific

Director Ojrzyńska says: “Directing Subject to Change was an amazing storytelling experience, during which I worked with many inspirational people and gained experience across different aspects of filmmaking.”

Collaboration project
Subject to Change
is a collaboration between Massey University and NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Present to launch the film at the premiere was the Ambassador and Climate Change Special Adviser of the Government of New Zealand, with special guest speaker Inia Seruiratu, COP23 High Level Climate Champion of Global Climate Action, and Minister for Defence and National Security of Fiji who introduced the Director and the Producer of the film.

“Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific,” said Ambassador Stephanie Lee. “Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described the climate change challenge as the Nuclear-Free Movement of our generation.”

“We have heard about the IPCC 1.5 degrees report and we already knew that it really underlines this challenge as an urgent one. The documentary you are about to see embodies that sense of challenge, but it also embodies a sense of hope,” said Ambassador Lee.

The documentary featured and drew strongly on the perspective of the Fijian people, particularly of those of the small island of Batiki with a population of around 300 people that was hit hardest by Cyclone Winston in February, 2017.

Inia Seruiratu thanked the NZ government and Massey University for supporting the documentary, as well as New Zealand’s support and partnership on the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion where the premiere was being held.

Speaking about his experience as a Pacific islander, Seruiratu thanked the producer, director and the team behind the documentary for producing a powerful medium with which the voices of the vulnerable could be heard.

“People need to see and experience visually the realities others such as those in the Pacific are facing in order to better understand. And this is why this documentary is so important and serves as a great tool,” said Seruiratu.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nations close ranks to stop ‘big four’ oil producers watering down UN report

By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen in Katowice, Poland

In a moment of drama in Poland, countries have closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as the meeting in Katowice descended into acrimony yesterday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

READ MORE: 12 activists denied entry to Poland for UN climate summit

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

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But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Pacific nations, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary.

‘This is us’
“This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying Pacific islands and coastal villages in the Arctic.

But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45 percent by 2030.

Before the plenary on Saturday, the UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa said she hoped to see countries “really welcoming and highlighting the importance of this report… Even if the IPCC is very clear in saying how difficult it will be to achieve that goal, it still says it is possible”.

The US, which raised doubts about the science behind the report before it was finalised, said on Saturday that it would accept wording that noted the IPCC’s findings – while stressing that that “does not imply endorsement” of its contents.

Russia said “it is enough just to note it”, rather than welcoming the report, while Kuwait said it was happy with the wording as it stood.

Plenary push
The push in the plenary to change the wording to “welcome” began with the Maldives, which chairs the alliance of small island states. It was quickly backed by a wide range of countries and groups, including the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African countries, Norway (another large oil and gas producer), Argentina, Switzerland, Nepal, Bhutan, Marshall Islands, Belize and South Korea.

Negotiators huddled with the plenary meeting’s chair, Paul Watkinson, for nearly an hour to try and work out a compromise.

But Watkinson’s suggestion – welcoming the “efforts” of the IPCC experts and noting the “importance of the underlying research” – fell flat.

Delegates from Latin America, small islands, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Africa and elsewhere argued it was not enough to highlight the work that went into the report, it needed to address the findings.

Watkinson said he was disappointed that they could not agree. But a negotiator said the talks would continue: “This is a prelude to a huge fight next week,” when ministers arrive in Poland. It will be up to the Polish hosts to find a place for the report’s findings in the final outcome of the talks.

Wording that welcomes, rather than notes, the 1.5C report should be the bare minimum, Belize negotiator Carlos Fuller told Climate Home News. However, “the oil producing countries recognise that if the international community takes it on board, it means a massive change in the use of fossil fuels”, he said. “From the US point of view, this is the Trump administration saying ‘we do not believe the climate science’.”

‘Won the fight’
Fuller added: “In my opinion we have won the fight, because the headline tomorrow will be: the UNFCCC cannot agree the IPCC report’, and people will say ‘Why, what’s in the report?’ and go and look.”

The 1.5C science wasn’t the only divisive issue after a week of Cop24 talks, with countries still mostly holding their ground on the Paris Agreement’s rulebook.

Contentious decisions related to the transparency of reporting emissions and the make up of national climate plans have all been refined, but ultimately kicked to the higher ministerial level. Several observers raised the concern that some unresolved issues may be too technical for ministers to debate with adequate expertise.

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

‘Voicing our concerns’
“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

This article is republished with permission from Climate Home News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific’s brightest minds gather for Oceans and Islands research summit

By Blessen Tom

In a bold and innovative move for researchers, the two-day inaugural Oceans and Islands conference today brought together the brightest minds of the Pacific to demonstrate what they do.

Oceans and Islands – a showcase for the region hosted by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) – was opened by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, this morning.

“I really do have the privilege of being able to witness the great contribution that Pacific leaders, academics and communities make to Aotearoa and globally,” the minister said.

READ MORE: Pacific aid mapping tool aimed at improving transparency in region

Pacific Peoples Minister Carmel Sepuloni … “critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making”. Images: Blessen Tom/PMC

She acknowledged the excellence of Pacific research in New Zealand and welcomed the establishment of research agencies such as Moana Research and commended the leadership of Dr Teuila Percival, Jcinta Fa’alili-Fidow and Dudley Gentles.

The minister also shared some of the research initiatives that she is directly involved with such as the extended funding to the growing up in New Zealand study and Treasury’s Pasifika Economic Report.

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“It is critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making. We must be the authors of our own solutions, and conferences like this support us towards that end,” she added.

Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa … struggles faced by Pacific researchers. Image: David Robie/PMC

Many struggles
Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa, who was recently appointed pro vice-chancellor (Pacific) of the University of Auckland, said: “Pacific research and Pacific knowledge matters.”

“It’s not simply research about the Pacific, by the Pacific that makes it Pacific research. It’s much more than that…and it has faced many struggles,” he added.

He talked about the struggles that researchers faced, such as not being properly resourced, the lack of opportunities to succeed, and the lack of proper recognition.

“These are the struggles NZIPR embarked on,” he said in a tribute to the institute that he was the founding director of. The achievements of NZIPR were:

• Creating a formal research programme – “five research programmes will be signed off completed or published by the end of this year.”

• Disseminating research through both online and offline platforms, and establishing a research repository to make visible the different kinds of knowledge.

• Building research capability and the research recognition of a diverse range of researchers that includes 12 scholarships and sponsorship for individual researchers and research projects.

He also remarked that NZIPR had “achieved so much so quickly”.

Indigenous principles
Dr David Welchman Gegeo led the third keynote session when he gave full recognition to indigenous ethical principles that guide the social construction of knowledge in Pacific island communities.

“Why do we keep doing research on Pacific communities?” and “Are we alone?” asked David Gegeo.

“Pacific Island’s epistemic communities are not alone in the quest for the indigenisation or oceanisation of research and knowledge construction in the Pacific,” he said.

“I think we have a better chance of answering some of our lingering questions in research when we work together as this team.”

He advocated the working together of university epistemic community, metro-centrist epistemic community and Pacific village epistemic community for research and construction of pacific knowledge.

Dr Gegeo holds a research position in the Office of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the Solomon Islands National University.

Professor Kapua’ala Sproat … proactive indigenous responses to “pernicious impacts of global warming”. Image: Blessen Tom/PMC

Dr Kapua’ala Sproat is a professor of law at the University of Hawai’i’s Richardson School of Law and the director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawai’ian Law.

Her keynote explored indigenous people’s proactive responses to the pernicious impacts of global warming.

‘Sense of culture’
“I’m incredibly grateful that I grew up with a strong sense of self and culture because I think that really has rooted both myself and but also my work,” she said.

Professor Sprout examined Native Hawai’ians’ potential deployment of local laws that embody restorative justice principles to fashion meaningful remedies for the environmental and cultural damage as a result of the global climate crisis.

“Our identity as indigenous people is inextricably tied to these islands and our natural and cultural resources” said Professor Sprout and “Global Warming threatens our island home and our identity as a people”.

The final keynote session of the day was addressed by Leina Tucker-Masters, Eliza Puna and by Dr Jamaima Tiataia- Seath.

Their presentation canvassed the journeys of three Pacific women researchers throughout their academic careers.

“Engaging in research as an undergraduate student helped me connect with my Pacific culture while at university,” said Leina Tucker-Masters, a medical student at the University of Auckland.

Research methodologies
Tucker-Masters talked about her experience with Pacific research methodologies and how they influenced literature.

“I learned about Pacific health initiatives that use Pacific ways of thinking to heal Pacific people”.

“Postgraduate research gives you an opportunity to carry out very ethnic specific research and it allows for in depth engagement and helps to bridge academia and our communities,” said Eliza Puna, a doctoral candidate in Pacific Studies at Auckland University.

Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath is currently co-head of school and head of Pacific studies, Te Wananga o Waipapa, School of Māori and Pacific Studies, University of Auckland.

She talked about her experience as one of six panelists on the government’s Mental Health and Addiction Enquiry.

The Oceans and Islands conference will conclude tomorrow evening.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

NZIPR research manager Dr Evelyn Marsters and one of the keynote speakers, Professor David Gegeo of the Solomon Islands, at the Oceans and Islands conference in Auckland today. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific aid mapping tool aimed at improving transparency in region

By Sri Krishnamurthi

A new Pacific aid mapping tool developed by the Lowy Institute think tank is set to immeasurably improve transparency in aid in the region.

In an Auckland first, the aid mapping tool was put on show last night by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research as a curtainraiser to the two-day inaugural Oceans and Islands conference which opened at Auckland University’s Fale Pasifika today.

The guest demonstrator and speaker at Auckland University’s Owen Glenn Business School last night was Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Programme.

READ MORE: The Oceans and Islands conference

He was introduced by senior lecturer in Pacific Studies at Auckland University Dr Lisa Uperesa.

“This is a part of the seminar series that has been part of the mandate for the NZIPR which is about growing capacity and disseminating research,” Dr Uperesa said.

Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Programme, introducing the Pacific Aid Map at Auckland University last night. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC

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Jonathan Pryke traced the beginnings of the mapping tool to Dr Penelope Brant and her PhD project which was charting every aid project that Papua New Guinea was engaged in, in the Pacific, subsequently the project turned into the Chinese aid in the Pacific map that the Lowy Institute released in 2015.

“This map made quite a splash, first because it was in interactive form that they haven’t seen before in the Pacific, Pryke said.

China’s spread
“It also made a splash because people hadn’t fully come to grips with just how far China had spread into the Asia-Pacific Island countries that support the one-China policy.”

“We had two major pieces of feedback from this tool. The first was from the Chinese government saying, ‘thanks guys, we had no idea how much we were doing’ and second piece of feedback was this is fantastic but why don’t we do this for every donor because it is very hard to find out what Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all these guys are doing?”

Transparency leads to good governance and that was needed around the world, he said.

“There is one good reason to enhance transparency around aid, not just in the Pacific but globally, there is global mandate to improve transparency which was agreed upon by all traditional donors in 2005 in the Paris accord,” said Pryke.

“It revolves around three main reasons why transparency in aid is important.

“In theory the first is, it should improve and make it easier for donors to co-ordinate with one another in the aid space,” he outlined.

“In the Pacific Island region there is more than 62 donors operating, that is countries or multinational agencies operating in the Pacific at any given time.

“So it’s really critical in all contexts that donors are able to co-ordinate with one another to prevent overlap, to reduce the drag on recipient governments and just to be more efficient,” he said.

‘Enhancing transparency’
“The second reason for enhancing transparency is to help align what donors are doing with receiving government priorities,” Pryke said.

Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa speaking at the opening of the NZIPR Islands and Oceans conference at the Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland today. Image: David Robie/PMC

“We spent a lot of time on this project talking to Pacific Island governments about how they go about keeping track what donors are doing in the Pacific and pretty much all of them told us they couldn’t help us because they didn’t have sophisticated data telling them what the donors were doing

“It is a very messy thing to get hold of, and so having a tool like this just helps them to see what is happening in their own countries.

“So, they can better steer what donors are doing with their own development priorities.

“Having more information, and easier access to it should help Pacific countries better align aid to the priorities,” Pryke said.

The third reason for enhanced transparency was that it improves accountability of aid in the region for the media, civil society for academics, he pointed out.

“There is a lot of money going into the Pacific every year with very little oversight on how it is done outside of those giving it and those receiving it and so it is pretty more out there in the public domain.

‘Improving accountability’
“It should improve accountability and put the pressure on both sides of the equation, sender and receiver to improve the way that aid is delivered,” he summed up the third reason.

“We really were keen to do this project and so we started conversations with the Australian government to fund it.

“How we did it, from 2011 until today we requested data on 13,000 aid projects from 62 donors. We have a data from most donors be it an NGO or private sector contractor so there is a huge wealth of information.

“We had to take this huge database and put into a user-friendly, publicly available, interactive, visually-appealing interface that anyone that anyone in the world can access and actually make sense of, and so we put together this tool,” he said.

The Oceans and Islands conference was opened this morning by the Minister for Social Development and Disabilities Carmel Sepuloni and founding NZIPR director Associate-Professor Damon Salesa, who is now pro vice-chancellor (Pacific) of Auckland University.

Keynote speakers today were Dr David Welchman Gegeo of the Solomon Islands and  Professor Kapua Sproat of Hawai’i.

Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford, acting director of NZIPR, will close the conference tomorrow afternoon. About 120 people are taking part in the showcase of Pacific research.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

The Pacific Media Centre’s team at the NZ Institute for Pacific Research conference … Sri Krishnamurthi (left) and Blessen Tom. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Low-cost solar batteries key to cheap electricity for Polynesian countries

A report on innovative solar energy technology for the Pacific. Video: NZIPR

By Sri Krishnamurthi with Peter Wilson in Auckland

Solar-powered batteries are the key to a future without electricity grids for Polynesian countries in the Pacific (Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga), a study has found.

The study is funded by the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) to assess the feasibility of a low-cost, energy future – titled “Polynesian pathways to a future without electricity grids”.

The first phase of the research, conducted by Peter Wilson (principal economist and head of Auckland business for the NZ Institute of Economic Research) and his team of Professor Basil Sharp (Auckland University professor and chair in energy economics) and Gareth William (head of Solar City Energy Services), queries whether distributed solar electricity is a practical alternative to grid-based electricity.

“The project is investigating the impact of new technologies on electricity sectors in the Pacific, we are looking at whether solar panels and batteries could augment or eventually replace electricity grids and large diesel generators,” says principal investigator Wilson.

“First phase is showing that the costs of both solar panels and batteries is diminishing very quickly and it won’t be very long before they will be economic in the Pacific and so that you have the potential to start radically changing how energy is delivered to Pacific nations.”

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While he believes it is technologically feasible now, the prohibitive cost of the batteries at the moment – the leading provider of solar batteries being Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall – is something that has economically got to arrive yet, but the trend is towards costs being reduced significantly.

He says that within 10 years batteries and solar panels together could have a large impact on existing electricity sectors in the islands, and he sees that as a positive development because it will make it easier to extend electricity to people who don not currently have it at a cheap cost.

Decisions needed
However, he says, it does mean that the island governments must consider what they do with their existing generators and existing distribution assets if they are found to be non-competitive against the new technology.

“While it is not economically feasible yet, the trends are there and so it’s something that the Pacific governments should start thinking about,” says Wilson.

“At the moment they’re focusing very much on using solar panels to replace their electricity generation, they’re just connecting to their existing electricity grids and existing technologies.

“We think the batteries are going to change the equation and that is something that should be looked at, and the point is that this is not just something for the Pacific Islands, it’s happening around the world and a lot of countries and a lot of companies are trying to work out what to do, but they don’t really have a solution.”

He is expecting exciting new technological developments in batteries as a means of storing electricity into the future.

“The basic technology is not changing. What is changing is the cost of the batteries and their efficiency, how much power they can hold,” says Wilson.

“We’ve all seen how cell phones have become smaller and smaller over the few last years, and a large amount of that is because the batteries getting smaller and better, electric vehicles are doing the same thing. It is the same technology just using it for a different purpose.”

Hawai’ian benchmark
Hawai’i is an example they studied because it is like the South Pacific countries.

“Hawai’i which has a similar geography to the South Pacific, it’s North Pacific and tropical country with small islands and they too have moved to replace the diesel-fired generators with solar panels,” says Wilson.

“That’s a good benchmark to look at on the technological side but the economics are slightly different because it’s bigger Island, but what we particularly looked is that is an example of what could happen.”

The next phase is due to begin as soon as the NZIPR give it the greenlight.

Peter Wilson explains the way forward. “Hopefully it starts sometime this year and that involves going out to the islands and doing on-the-spot investigations, talking to people, at the moment phase one was desk research based in New Zealand.”

“So far the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has been very supportive of the project They’ve been funding quite large numbers of solar panels into the Pacific and they are quite keen to look at this next development which is adding batteries to that investment.”

He says the electricity generation industries are facing a major change in the evolution of the technology with what they do in their business.

‘Technological revolution’
“These industries are facing a technological revolution. They have choices, how do they respond? do they try to get ahead the curve, do they bury head in sand, do they try and make it someone else’s problem.

“We are seeing around the world this issue is being addressed, in some countries, some companies are very supportive and wanting to get to get on the bandwagon.”

Ultimately the goal is renewable energy to expand access to affordable, reliable and clean energy in the Pacific. Renewable energy targets feature prominently in all their Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Already a change is underway in Australia and New Zealand with a slow but sure transformation to renewable energy.

“It’s starting to change now. You are seeing in Auckland the lines company Vector is starting to invest in large batteries (Tesla Powerwall batteries) rather than just look at extensions to the grid.

This is a project that can change the economies of scale of Pacific countries and Peter Wilson is banking on it to transform lives in Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga.

The Pacific Media Centre shares content with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research as part of a collaboration agreement. The video was edited by Blessen Tom as part of the partnership.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media