Vulnerable small island states call for Bangkok climate talks to “close the gaps”

By John Parnell

Rich nations must ramp-up their greenhouse gas cuts and make good on promises surrounding climate finance in order to close existing gaps in both, a statement by the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) has said.

The plea comes on the first day of the latest round of UN climate change negotiations in Bangkok.

Finance and a new Kyoto commitment period top the bill at the latest round of UN climate talks in Bangkok. (Source: Flickr/UNFCCC)

There is currently a disparity between the emission cuts required to stave off dangerous climate change and those offered, this is the so called emissions gap.

The funding gap refers to end of the current climate finance regime at the end of this year and the commencement of the next, expected in 2014.

AOSIS uses the example of recent extreme weather as an indicator of the impact that climate change is having on communities now and the need for further pledges.

“This meeting opens in the immediate aftermath of a deadly typhoon in the Republic of Korea and a hurricane that hit near New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina – powerful reminders of the urgent need to lower greenhouse gas emissions,” writes Marlene Moses, chair of AOSIS on behalf of its members.

“The science clearly shows that emissions must be dramatically lowered in the short-term if we are to preserve a likely chance of keeping global warming below 2C or 1.5C,” reads the statement. “Anything less would entail an unacceptable level of risk for small islands, whose development prospects, viability and survival hang in the balance.”

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Sea level rises and increased storm surges are making small islands states are vulnerable to coastal erosion, salination of freshwater supplies and the loss of marine habitats.

The talks in Bangkok will look to make progress on a series of issues including the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol through a new commitment period from rich countries and the ongoing issue of raising funds to help poorer nations address climate change.

“A five-year [commitment] period would enable countries to ramp up their ambition in response to the IPCC’s fifth assessment report, due in late 2014. We also want to see the new commitments applied provisionally from 1 January 2013 to ensure that there is no gap in legal commitments when the first commitment period expires at the end of the year.

“What’s more, with trust in developed countries willingness to make good on their commitments to provide climate finance floundering, we need to see concrete proposals to ensure that $100 billion a year by 2020 is realized, as was agreed.”

The Bangkok talks will continue until Wednesday September 5.

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