Summary: AOSIS Ministerial Briefing

December 12, 2019
  • Climate
  • COP25
  • Press Release

Carlos Fuller, the Alliance’s lead negotiator, chaired an unprecedented AOSIS Ministerial Press Conference this afternoon at COP 25.

Mr. Fuller said, AOSIS “hastily convened this press conference because COP 25 is demonstrating very little ambition. COP 25 is a defining moment for us. It must trigger a decade of ambition. We are appalled at the state of negotiations. At this stage we are being cornered. We fear having to concede on too many issues that would damage the very integrity of the Paris Agreement. What’s before us is a level of compromise so profound that it underscores a lack of ambition, seriousness about the climate emergency and the urgent need to secure the fate of our islands.”

Mr Fuller was flanked by ministers from Belize, Fiji and Grenada, who frankly expressed the Alliance’s challenges and sources of obstruction in the negotiation process. They primarily addressed Article 6 (issues of markets and mitigation), loss and damage, and finance.

Grenada’s minister of environment, Hon. Simon Steill, said “the developed world and large like-minded developing countries lack ambition and it costs lives, threatens our cultures and erodes our homelands.”

During the question and answers, he acknowledged the regressive role of countries such as China, India and Brazil in Article 6 negotiations. He added that this lack of ambition is intolerable for AOSIS because “our countries will be rendered uninsurable if we breach 1.5-degree warming.”

The failure of major emitters, including Australia, the United States, Canada, Russia, India, China, Brazil, “to commit to submitting revised NDCs suitable for achieving a 1.5-degree world shows a lack of ambition that also undermines ours.”

As updated text and moderate progress on loss and damage was relayed to the panel, Belize’s climate change minister, the Hon. Omar Figueroa, stopped short of naming specific parties who have thwarted progress on loss and damage. However, he reminded the world that loss and damage “is an existential issue for our membership.”

Minister Figueroa said “the very existence of member states is at stake. Countries such as Tuvalu are literally at risk of disappearing because of sea level rise by 2050.  It is unjust and when developed countries, including those who claim to stand with us, object to modest text on loss and damage our very existence and ability to thrive is undermined.”

Minister Figueroa called upon all parties to enforce the  Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM). He also called for comprehensive climate action to reflect the special case of small island developing states. “Loss and damage is a perfect example of our special needs.  Loss and damage ambition in action means support for the small island Disaster Risk and Reconstruction Fund.”

He noted that “loss and damage ambition is an optimistic project” rather than the narrow defensive post-disaster responses often floated. “It is an opportunity to manage economy-wide transitions and build resilience,” he added.

Fiji’s minister of economy, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum , offered a blunt reading of the state of global commitment to climate finance, the core enabler of any substantial action.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said “ambition is more than a wish. It’s tangible and must be funded.” The Minister added that “we are on track to miss our 2020 climate finance commitment of US$100B per year,” called for developed countries to show “honour and responsibility” by “ramping up the momentum towards fulfilling the 2020 climate finance pledge of US$100 billion.”  However, “ambition on climate finance requires that we set a bold new climate finance goal that reflects our ambition for a 1.5-degree world. Our bold new climate finance target must be honoured swiftly and be guided by the best available science and our needs.”

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum observed that “when the United States, Canada, European Union, Japan, Australia and other developed countries fail to honour their 2020 climate finance commitments or improve them rapidly, we wonder: where is the ambition?”

The chief economic steward of one of the world’s top ten most climate vulnerable countries ended his remarks by drawing a compelling contrast. Last week’s release of global climate risk and vulnerability rankings revealed Fiji’s top ten exposure, whereas as a global performance report showed the inaction of its chief regional partner. The performance report ranks Australian inaction on climate change at the bottom of the global league table with a score of zero out of 100.