Monday, December 7, 2015

Island Voices Have Impact

The first day of week two and the opening of the high level section of COP21 has seen speeches from Heads of State and Ministers about their commitment to working together to achieve a legally binding Agreement.

 The Ministers have draft text to work with, which was prepared by the negotiators last week, but remain a long way from reaching an Agreement.

The main ocean story in the first week came from Island States who repeatedly called for action to prevent their ultimate demise to the rising seas and other ocean impacts.  Their story, as people living on the frontline of climate change, remains as powerful as it has ever been but it was elevated in impact during this COP by the direct engagement of President Obama of the United States.  When Obama went to a meeting with the Islands and described himself as an ‘Island boy’ he aligned the developed world with the plight of those being seriously impacted now.

The message of those on the frontline is that we need to hold temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and this has gained more traction in the negotiations than anyone had previously thought possible.

In addition to being at the sharp end of climate impacts, the Islands are also driving innovation in their response to it. Several Island delegates and Ambassadors gathered today to discuss the important initiatives being developed to help combat climate change.

Prime Minister Mike Eman of Aruba spoke about the importance of nations continuing to develop sustainably, even in the face of climate impacts and this was supported by presentations from scientists and finance experts on the realities of climate change and the economic and technical ways in which we can fight it.