Statement by Belize at the Plenary Session of COP25 in Madrid

2019-12-02 Download PDF

Topic: Climate

Statement by Belize on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the opening plenary meeting of COP, CMP, CMA, SBSTA and SBI


2 December 2019 (10:00am-1:00pm) Madrid, Spain

Madam President, Distinguished Chairs, Excellencies and Colleagues,

1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of 44 low lying small island and coastal developing states, which face insurmountable challenges to our sustainable development due to the escalating impacts of climate change. Despite 30 years of consistent advocacy, tireless engagement and action within our means, global inaction and inadequate commitments signal a willingness to sacrifice the very existence of small island developing states. The persistent escalation of global greenhouse emissions is a choice.

2. There is no want for climate solutions. Mitigative measures have always been well within reach and technological innovation a constant disrupter across society.

3. Nor is there want for signs that those solutions must be urgently made available to those most vulnerable on favourable terms. In the past decade, we have seen the hottest years on record, more extreme and frequent disasters, and steady rise in sea levels, rendering life for many on our small islands increasingly intolerable.

Latest Science

4. The IPCC’s trifecta of Special Reports is a striking case for urgent climate action in line with the Paris goals.

5. We are approaching our last window of opportunity to act decisively! Every degree matters for our survival. The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C issued last year paints a dire picture of a 1.5 degree world and an even more alarming outlook at 2 degrees. The Special Reports on Climate Change and Land, and on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which were released this year, both reinforce and broaden our understanding of the stark risks posed by unabated climate change to the very earth systems that sustains humanity.

6. The messages from these reports are compelling and irrefutable.
a) Climate change is happening at an unprecedented pace, which, if not mitigated, will compromise sustainable development, and trigger irreversible losses.
b) We are at or near limits to adaptation.
c) Urgent and large scale action for mitigation is required to secure a future for humanity as we know it.
The SIDS experience to date is a manifestation of these messages in real terms.

7. Yet, global inaction persists. Our commitments are woefully insufficient. At present, NDCs and other commitments place us on a dangerous path towards a world twice as warm as the devastating 1.5-scenario. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2019 finds that even if all unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement are implemented, we are still on course to a 3.2 degree temperature rise!

8. We are disappointed by inadequate action by developed countries in accordance withthe principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and outraged by the dithering and retreat of one of the most culpable polluters from the Paris Agreement. Retreat and inaction are not hallmarks of

leadership. In the midst of a climate emergency, they are tantamount to sanction ecocide. They reflect profound failure to honour collective global commitment to protect the most vulnerable.

Enhancing Ambition

9. With our very existence at stake, AOSIS sees this COP as a test of our collective will. COP 25 must demonstrate how far we will push for ambition to avert ecocide. COP 25 must signal our resolve to achieve a 1.5-degree world.

10. We must build on the momentum generated by the Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit.

11. All countries, especially developed countries with historic responsibility for humanity’s greatest challenge, must present bold plans in 2020 and facilitate the means to unleash a wave of unprecedented climate action. .

12. The challenge is so great, COP 25 must trigger “Our Decade of Ambition.” This session must establish key milestones to lay the groundwork for 2020 and beyond

How can COP 25 Foster Ambition?

13. NDCs

COP25 must unequivocally drive enhanced NDCs and the development of long-term low greenhouse gas (GHG) emission strategies by 2020 that collectively enables the world to stay within the 1.5 pathway.

14. Carbon Markets

We must secure a deal on Article 6 at COP-25. It is critical that Article 6 be enacted multilaterally and reflect the principles of high ambition and environmental integrity. We are committed to work with all Parties to deliver

such a solution. The post-2020 regime requires a paradigm shift, which meansavoiding double counting, and any loophole that is likely to undermine our shared goals. A credible deal on Article 6 will spur greater ambition towards a 1.5-degree world, on both mitigation and adaptation. In fact, the most direct and impactful way Article 6 can deliver our goal of higher ambition is by transcending mere offsetting, and ensuring Article 6 delivers an enhanced stream of resources for the Adaptation Fund. We cannot allow carryovers of Kyoto units to dilute post-2020 ambition.

15. Common Timeframes

To achieve the level of ambition needed to maintain the Paris goal of 1.5, we must take decisive action over the next decade. We urge all Parties to come to a decision regarding common timeframes for NDCs.. Our NDCs should accommodate enhanced ambition and action based on the best available science on 1.5 and be informed by and aligned with the Global Stocktake.

16. Public Registries

Accordingly, we must ensure public registries for NDCs and adaptation communications are established to ensure effective operationalization of the ambition cycle.

17. Marrakech Partnership

Finally, in enhancing ambition, we need to strengthen and extend the work of the Marrakesh Partnership. We commend the Partnership for releasing their sectoral 1.5 degree pathways this week and encourage all Parties to consider those pathways in developing their NDCs. To continue this important work, AOSIS seeks a decision at this COP to extend the Marrakesh Partnership beyond 2020.

Loss and Damage

18. Given the escalating scale and frequency of devastating natural disasters caused by climate change, we now contend that loss and damage transcends economic losses. Lives, identities and whole communities are being destroyed. Just three months ago, Hurricane Dorian, which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described as ‘Category Hell’, ravaged The Bahamas. This resulted in more than seventy Small Islanders losing their lives, and more than one thousand are still missing – presumed to be washed out to sea by strong storm surges as a result of the Hurricane. This is an illustration of what Loss and Damage is for Small Island States today. Alarmingly, such extreme weather events will become even more intense and frequent.

19. What we do in mitigation has an inverse relationship with loss and damage experienced by vulnerable countries now and in the future.

20. We strongly urge that the WIM Review yields a robust fit-for-purpose mechanism that is responsive to the urgent needs of SIDS and LDCs. We have outlined practicable steps to meet the needs of SIDS for risk management, finance and overall support. [The 2019 Review should therefore agree, inter alia, on the following ten activities to be undertaken by the ExCom during the next 5 years:

21. Risk Management

a) The rollout of a programme of funded long-term risk assessments (LTRAs) in SIDS and other particularly vulnerable developing countries to assist them in preparing and maintaining inventories of assets at risk of loss or damage due to the adverse effects of climate change and in evaluating the scale of risk to these assets.

b) The development of a standardised approach to quantifying the risk of loss and damage.

c) A dedicated work programme with the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) and Adaptation Committee to incorporate the assessment of loss and damage in their guidelines for preparing National Communications (NatComs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), the Adaptation Communication, and eventually Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs) under the enhanced transparency framework (ETF) – with an important goal of assessing collective efforts related to addressing loss and damage under the global stocktake (GST) process.

d) Support for the development and expansion of risk transfer facilities (e.g. CCRIF, ARC and PCRAFI) and fostering the development and/or expansion of national/regional level solidarity funds (e.g. the EU solidarity fund; Mexico’s FONDEN) for supporting persistent and longer-term impacts.

e) Expansion of the work of the ExCom on slow onset events (SOEs) to incorporate the latest IPCC projections on sea level rise, linking with the rollout of LTRAs in SIDS and other particularly vulnerable developing countries;

22. Support

a) The establishment of an expert group to address enhanced action and support for addressing loss and damage.

b) Establishment of a formal process to provide technical support to particularly vulnerable developing countries during or following the onset of hazards that result in loss and damage.

23. Finance

a) Guidance to the GCF to expand its focus to include initiatives that specifically address loss and damage in particularly vulnerable developing countries, linked to NAPs, adaptation communications,

national communications, NDCs, and other relevant national instruments, including arrangements for funding the preparation of BTRs and the LTRAs.

b) A separate emergency response window in the GCF with an expedited approval process to enable decision-making within seven days after loss and damage resulting from extreme weather events.

c) Long-term support from the programme budget to ensure that the work of the WIM is sufficiently and reliably funded, including support for expert groups.

24. In concluding the Review, AOSIS maintains that a joint decision of both the COP and the CMA will be appropriate moving forward. This is consistent with the COP’s decision on the role of the Convention in promoting the implementation of approaches to address loss and damage and its understanding that Paris Agreement, Article 8, complements this role.

Means of Implementation

100 Billion from 2020

25. As 2020 draws closer, the momentum towards fulfilling the climate finance pledge of US$100 billion must accelerate. We must also draw on the lessons learnt from the long-term finance process to guide discussions on scaling up climate finance that balances mitigation and adaptation. This requires a bold new climate finance goal that reflects our ambition for a 1.5-degree world.

26. The landscape of climate finance is dense and in need of reform. Entities at the core of the Financial Mechanism must operate nimbly to respond to the needs of developing countries. They must be guided by the best available science and support the ‘paradigm shift towards low emissions and high- resilience development pathways’.

27. For SIDS, these entities must continuously improve access in a holistic manner from readiness to project preparation to approval and execution. This requires recognition and responsiveness to prevailing multifaceted capacity constraints. Given imminent needs that can arise in the face of inexorable adaptation breaches, so too should these entities ceaselessly strive to devise tailored financial instruments and specialized access windows to match our needs.

28. Finally, AOSIS welcomes the pledges made to the Green Climate Fund and looks forward to continued and increasing contributions to the Fund. We encourage sustained support for the Capacity Building Initiative on Transparency under the Global Environment Facility and strongly recommend that a similar initiative be established to support developing countries for timely preparation of NDCs and other communications under the Enhanced Transparency Framework.

Adaptation Fund

29. Following the decision last year that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, it is important to reach a decision on eligibility for membership to the Board.


30. Central to the ambition cycle of the Paris Agreement is the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF), and consequently its operationalization, is a sine qua non to the ambition calculus. We should seize the opportunity at SBSTA to make marked progress on common reporting tables and common tabular formats for reporting to complete the mandated work by 2020.

31. It is especially important that this CMA takes a decision on the organization of work going forward. This should include the Secretariat’s preparation of proposals based on existing tools and submissions by parties to date for the timely consideration of Parties, and the organization of technical workshops before COP 26.

32. The application of flexibility must facilitate transparent reporting, which requires including a summary table of the use of flexibility in the BTR and refraining from deleting sections of the CRTs and CTFs.

33. Consistent with our position on carbon markets and broader Article 6 discussions, our guiding principle for the MPGs include avoidance of double counting and ensuring environmental integrity. Maximum clarity and avoidance of double counting in the CTFs for support provided and mobilized, alongside using CRTs and CTFs to promote TACCC principles will be essential to ensure environmental integrity

34. As we pursue the full operationalization of the ETF, AOSIS urges the expansion of capacity building support, especially for data generation data and reporting on support needed and received. We also urge that training programmes for expert reviewers be developed collaboratively by the Secretariat, the Lead Reviewers and the CGE.

The Blue COP

35. Finally, we note that COP 25 is dubbedthe “Blue COP,” in recognition of the devastating impacts of climate change on the ocean, our communities and economies. This is a critical issue for small island states, for whom sea-level rise and other ocean impacts are existential threats. We urge Parties and Groups to support this call for without a healthy ocean, humanity’s earthly existence will be jeopardized.


Madam President, Distinguished Chairs, Excellencies and Colleagues,

36. AOSIS extends its full support to the President of the COP, to deliver a bold and ambitious focused outcome at COP 25. We look forward to working constructively with our partners to make progress on the outstanding Agenda Items from the Paris Rulebook during this session.

37. AOSIS also extends its sincere gratitude to the Government and people of Spain for their hospitality, and yeoman efforts in enabling this COP to take place at the timing originally planned.

38. The world cannot afford to lose any more time. Let us seize this opportunity to facilitate heightened global ambition and decisive action in 2020 and beyond. Let’s be partners and create Our Decade of Ambition.

Thank you.

Sub Topic: Cross-cutting


Meeting: COP25