Local climate activist “not surprised” with developments

A landmark report on the urgency required to deal with global warming is being edged out of international negotiations, and Samoa's Fiu Mataese Elisara said he is not surprised.

Fiu, the Director of O Le Siosiomaga Society Incorporation (O.L.S.S.I), has attended several international negotiations and conferences on climate change. 

He said watching the United Nations Conference of the Parties (U.N. C.O.P.) on the Framework Convention on Climate Change (F.C.C.C.) be dominated by rich, polluting countries has become normal. 

Fiu said an international lack of ambition to act on the climate crisis has proved itself, through continually rising global temperatures.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report stating that if unstopped by 2030, the earth’s warming by 1.5 degrees will be fatal. COP24 in Katowice, Poland last December failed to agree on how to discuss the report, so deferred it to the party technical committee for analysis. 

That analysis is happening in Bonn, Germany this week. Reports from the negotiation suggest the parties are discussing putting the report to bed, and not making it the centrepiece for negotiations on climate change commitments.

“The irony of it is the United Nations General Assembly through its Secretary General is scheduling this climate specific global conference in September during the United Nations General Assembly,” Fiu said.

“One of the reasons why [Secretary General Antonio Guterres] visited the Pacific countries last month was to get a feeling of the reality of climate change in our part of the world for small island developing states.”

The COP actually commissioned the I.P.C.C. report in 2015 under the Paris Agreement, and is due to release another commission on ‘The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’, requested in 2016.  

Fiu said the new report will likely present similar findings to the I.P.C.C. 1.5 degrees report, but how the COP will react “remains to be seen.

“I know the small islands in developing countries in the G77 are pushing for meaningful discussion and some serious decisions on this, but again unfortunately within G77 is Saudi Arabia, very big countries like China, big polluters are part of it,” he said.

The G77 is a coalition of 134 developing nations within the U.N, which includes Samoa. Fiu believes its lobbying is often dictated by those large polluters and is not consistent with the arguments the least developing and small island states make about climate change.

All of the noise countries like Samoa make are useless without “some sincerity in the G77 that includes the culprits to push a common position as to the urgency of climate change.”

But the fight is still important, Fiu said, both for adequate financing by the richer, polluting countries for small islands, and for science.

“They really need to continue the fight of the importance of science,” he said. “It has spoken.”

“We need to hold them to account in terms of their efforts to prove science wrong and to provide alternative, fake science.”

Reports by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, published by the European Union funded International Institute for Sustainable Development suggest delegates were “puzzled” by debate over the 1.5 degree report.

“With growing worry about the rapidly narrowing window to meet the temperature goals, a delegate noted that, “the scientific findings clearly show there is no excuse for inaction anymore.” 

“One climate scientist opined that “if parties would only agree to report aggregate emissions of cumulative pollutants, we could calculate both individual and collective impact of N.D.Cs on global temperature.” A delegate doubted countries would accept such attribution,” the report states.

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