By Samisoni Pareti, Group Editor-in-Chief, Islands Business Magazine
4 September 2014, Apia, Samoa – Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres has paid tribute to the leadership role Small Island Developing State (SIDS) members of the UN are playing in the push to adopt a legally-binding global climate change agreement in Paris next year.
Addressing journalists who are covering the 3rd UN Conference on SIDS that comes to an end in Apia today, Christiana Figueres (pictured), the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework for Climate Convention (UNFCC) says the fact that the outcome document of the conference known as the SAMOA Pathway was negotiated before the start of the conference was “quite remarkable.”
She believes the “compelling consensus” that exists among the world’s SIDS was the determining factor for the early agreement on the text of the Samoa Pathway.
“We have not had agreement on the text of the Paris Agreement which the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCC would need to finalise in the Paris UNFCC next year,” says Ms Figueres.
“What we have in the moment is an outline with topics and sub-topics and the text has to be negotiated between this month September to the Paris Conference next year.”
Unlike the failed Copenhagen Agreement of 2010, the UNFCC Executive Secretary is hopeful that the proposed Paris Agreement would be legally binding on all parties. Since Copenhagen, Conference Of the Party delegates have reiterated their commitment towards adopting a legally binding agreement, she said.
“The thing is the Paris Agreement would be much more complex than the Kyoto Protocol. Unlike Kyoto, which only has two sections, one for developed nations and the second for developing nations, the Paris Agreement would be likened to a house with many rooms.
“We have yet to determine how many rooms it would have but it certainly would be more than 2 rooms. Because 194 countries are involved, each country being different from each other, so all efforts are being made to fill the “solution” basket.
“What the Paris Agreement would also need to do is to chart a course of global carbon emission to come down to carbon neutral within the next 50 years.”
Reflecting on her attendance of the 3rd UN Conference on SIDS, Ms Figueres said she had 3 major take away from the conference; one being SIDS taking the lead despite its vulnerabilities; second being SIDS leadership in partnership and the third was SIDS, tiny as they are, challenging the rest of the world to follow their lead.
“SIDS have already identified what their contribution would be for the upcoming Paris Conference, especially on the work they are doing on meeting their renewable energy targets, which I must say is a huge contribution to finding a solution.
“SIDS are clearly challenging the rest of the world to do the same.”
The UNFCC Executive Secretary also gave an update on Secretary General Baan Ki-moon’s special Conference on Climate Change to be convened at the UN General Assembly in New York on 23 September.
Ms Figueres said 25 heads of state have already confirmed their participation. “In convening this conference, Secretary General Baan Ki-moon has invited heads of government, corporations and civil society organisations to come forward with bold announcements.
“The public wants to know what they are planning to do, because climate change is everybody’s issue.”
Meanwhile, the 3rd UN Conference on SIDS’ outcome statement, the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway was unanimously adopted as the 4-day conference came to an end today at the modern and sprawling Conference Centre in Tuanaimato, about 3 kilometres from Apia town.
Conference President, and Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi hit the gravel to announce the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway at 4.10pm Apia time to be met by resounding applause from delegates.
The United States delegation did make an intervention straight after to announce that while they were closely involved with the negotiation of the text of the SAMOA Pathway at the United Nations Assembly in New York, the US Government would want to add an appendix to the document.
The appendix would be in the form of a statement to explain the views of the US Government on certain sections of the Pathway. It asks that their statement be used “in its entirety.”