By Ed King
Pacific Island states at risk from rising sea levels have indicated they will push for compensation unless global emissions are brought under control.
In a statement issued at the start of the latest round of UN climate talks, which started today in Bonn, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) also called for any global climate deal to limit warming to below 1.5°C by the end of the century.
“Work…must be driven by a sense of urgency, bearing in mind that our failure to act decisively now will require a reactive and vastly more expensive response later,” it read.
“Moreover, a failure to close the pre-2020 mitigation ambition gap will have profound implications for the scale and nature of obligations under the 2015 protocol.”
The issue of compensation dominated the 2012 Doha climate summit, with countries agreeing to start work on a ‘loss and damage’ mechanism.
Developed nations have been reluctant to pursue this strand of talks too deeply, because it could land them with huge bills if calculations are based on historical emissions.
Major cities in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and China are all at extreme risk from climate-induced disasters according to risk advisors Maplecroft.
This week’s negotiations in Bonn come amidst increasingly gloomy predictions from climate scientists and economists.
Data released last week suggests carbon dioxide levels are nearing the 400-parts per million (ppm) mark, a level branded as ‘dangerous’ by some climate scientists.
Some believe a concentration of 450-ppm would pass a number of tipping points, pushing the earth into an ice-free state and forcing many Pacific Islanders to abandon their homes to the sea.
“We know that coral reefs, which support many of our economies, and buffer us from climate-related extreme weather events, are likely to stop growing if the 450-ppm mark is passed and start dissolving at concentrations beyond 550-ppm as ocean acidification intensifies,” say AOSIS.
“In light of these harsh realities, we must achieve an ADP agreement that ultimately brings CO2 concentrations back below these levels to limit warming to below 1.5°C by the end of the century.”
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres called on all parties taking part in Bonn to be “creative, constructive and willing”, urging them to develop a package to deliver to the main summit in Poland later this year.
“We are just about to cross the 400-ppm, hence this conference meets in a heightened sense of urgency. We must meet the deadlines set by the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties. The ADP working group has already used one third of the time allocated, so we must use the remaining time wisely.”