Marlene Moses: climate change stakes are high for island nations

Head of Alliance of Small Island States delegation outlines goals for UN’s COP19 climate summit

(Pic: UN Photos)

(Pic: UN Photos)

By Ambassador Marlene Moses

As the international community continues to develop the post-2020 climate change regime to be signed in Paris, it is important that we do not lose sight of the work we must do here in Warsaw.

First, to lower greenhouse gas emissions in line with scientific recommendations in the short-term and, second, to set the stage for an agreement ambitious enough to protect the most vulnerable people among us for generations to come.

It is well established that emissions must peak in the next few years, well before 2020, and decline steeply thereafter if we hope to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

The stakes are particularly high for low-lying and coastal nations, which are now experiencing life-altering impacts from record tidal surges, ocean acidification, intense storms and droughts, and, unless action is take in the next few years, face total inundation from sea level rise by the end of the century

In light of the urgency, AOSIS has submitted a proposal to complement the negotiations on the post-2020 agreement with a line of talks squarely focused on developing Mitigation Action Plans (MAPs) that provide Parties with strategies to rapidly scale up technologies and policies already proven to cut emissions.

The idea is to engage the best and brightest minds working on climate and energy issues – officials from relevant ministries, leading scientists, engineers, policy analysts, and representatives from civil society, community organizations and the private sector – in a collaborative process capable of delivering results in the time-frame required.

Warsaw goals

At this meeting, Parties should choose a list of promising policies and technologies—particularly those with development and adaptation co-benefits—for additional work to be conducted next year.

Furthermore, they should give experts a mandate to develop draft MAPs for each option with detailed information on the following:

-A quantification of greenhouse gas reductions achievable; An analysis of the costs and other barriers to implementation in specific socioeconomic and regional circumstances;

-Strategies for overcoming barriers, including enhanced provision of financial resources, technology, and capacity building by developed countries to developing countries;

-Options for leveraging the work if initiatives and entities inside and outside UNFCCC to maximize efforts and ensuring successful implementation of MAPs, and;

-Identification of areas needing further investigation and/or technical work.

The experts should continue work in 2014 with a view to completing the MAPs before the U.N. Secretary General’s Leader’s Summit in 2014.

We believe that our proposal shares the goals that the Secretary-General has set for the Summit and that our proposal can help him achieve those goals, namely to catalyze action in areas with high mitigation opportunities and to raise mitigation ambition.

The international community has proven time and again it can make substantial emission reductions using a combination of smart policies and readily available technologies.

Our plan calls on us to do just that, but on a much larger scale and with a renewed sense of focus. It won’t be easy, but the consequences of failure are unimaginable.

Ambassador Marlene Moses is the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States 

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