The 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [U.N.F.C.C.C] concluded with the adoption of the Paris Agreement that maps out the next phase of global action to combat climate change.
Delegations participated in intense, all-night negotiations to reach a universal, ambitious and flexible agreement that will allow the world to make important collective strides towards reducing the impacts of climate change.
The final Agreement, which will go into effect in 2020, was approved by all 196 countries, creating an internationally binding framework which addresses how the world will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, tackle challenges of adaptation, and provide mechanisms to ensure that all countries have the necessary support to pursue sustainable development.
Countries are now committed to hold the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
The difference between a 1.5 and 2°C temperature increase will have significant implications worldwide, especially on Small Island Developing States (S.I.D.S), where changes in sea level will have serious and disproportionate consequences for them.
The inclusion of 1.5°C provides an important window of opportunity for high-emitting countries to pursue ambitious climate action plans to reduce emissions before 2020. It will be up to all citizens to apply increasing political pressure to ensure that countries are all working towards a 1.5 °C goal.
A significant win for Small Islands Developing States is the inclusion of a separate and distinct element in the Agreement known as “loss and damage”, which acknowledges that some impacts of climate change will lead to permanent and irreversible impacts, despite a country’s best efforts to adapt.
While important elements were created, like the task force on climate change displacement, it will be in Samoa’s interest and that of the Pacific region as a whole to work collaboratively with partners and like-minded countries to ensure that the mandate of the mechanism to address loss and damage is expanded and that it receives adequate financial support globally - acknowledging that climate change causes permanent lasting impacts and poses existential threat to some of our region’s low-lying islands.
Developed countries also reaffirmed their commitment to providing a minimum of USD $100 billion in climate finance per year beginning in 2020, a significant scale up from current efforts. Much of these much-needed financial resources will flow through the Global Environment Facility (G.E.F), Green Climate Fund (G.C.F), and the Adaptation Fund (A.F). S.I.D.S are encouraged to see that finance, capacity building and technology will be provided to enable real change and to meet their particular development needs including the provision of public and grant-based resources for adaptation efforts.
Equally important is the commitment by countries to provide an update every five years on progress made towards their national contributions for combating climate change. These updates will provide the international community with a clearer picture of where countries are making progress and where they need to ramp up efforts.
Developing countries will receive support to produce these reports on Nationally Determined Mitigation Contributions. Beginning in 2023, countries will come together every five years to assess these national reports to gauge their adequacy towards meeting our collective climate goals.
While the historic Paris Agreement introduces some important new measures to track progress towards meeting our long-term climate goal, there is still room for increased international ambition to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable countries like Small Island Developing States (S.I.D.S).
Our development partners must keep their promises to increase financial support from 2020 onwards, and to meet their individual mitigation targets.
The Government of Samoa will do all it can to deliver on its proposed I.N.D.Cs, and will continue to implement important climate change projects nationally towards that goal. At the international level, it will advocate strongly at every available opportunity and forum to ensure that countries are doing all they can to limit the global increase to 1.5°C.
Samoa however remains confident that the international community is committed to combating climate change - and that the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which captures many of our key asks as a developing Pacific Island nation, is an important first step in a global call to action.
Samoa’s delegation to the Paris Conference was led by the Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi; and included the C.E.O of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Aiono Mose Sua; Samoa’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia; the C.E.O of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Suluimalo Amataga Penaia; the C.E.O of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Iulai Lavea; the A.C.E.O of the M.N.R.E, Anne Rasmussen; and Moafanua Tolusina Pouli.