The Pacific leading by example – actions on the table to address climate change


Caption: Entrance to the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru.Photo:SUPPLIED

2 December 2014, Lima, Peru – The climate change negotiations have a language of their own and this year a key word on the block is “INDC’s”, that stands for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

It’s this language on paper that aims to fix the climate change crisis, the effects of which Pacific island communities are feeling, and feeling hard.  Although our region contributes to less than 0.03% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, it is amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change the full specter of issues that climate change and global warming brings.

This week in Lima, Peru the international community will meet for the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change to continue laying the foundation for a new climate change agreement to be signed off by the end of 2015 in Paris next year.

This agreement will see the world working together to lower greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming however the Alliance of Small Island States are clear in their call for the world to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees celcius by 2100.

One way to progress this is through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions which were introduced at the Warsaw climate change conference in December last year.  These are the domestic actions underway using resources already in place to lower greenhouse gas emissions and are a requirement for all parties to the UN Climate Convention.

“While the Pacific have low emissions by global standards there have been strong calls from Pacific leaders that the region should also contribute,” said Mr. Espen Ronneberg, Climate Change Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“It sends a strong message that everyone should contribute to the solution of this global problem, and that the Pacific is showing leadership.”

At the Warsaw climate conference governments decided to intensify domestic preparations for their nationally determined contributions towards the agreement so that they are ready well before December 2015 and ideally by the first quarter of 2015.  This is an important part of the timeline of the negotiations.

Over the next two weeks in Lima, the conference must provide final clarity on what the INDC’s need to contain, the precise information that countries will provide when putting forward their nationally determined contributions, including for developing countries who are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

The Pacific islands region have been active in working to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  At the end of this year the Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy (PIGGAREP) Project comes to an end.  Having started in 2007, the project has worked to help remove the barriers to renewable technologies for 11 Pacific island countries, collectively aiming to reduce COemissions by 30% against a business as usual scenario.

SPREP is the implementing partner of PIGGAREP which is funded by the Global Environment Facility and co-financing partners.  The UNDP Multi-country office in Samoa is the Principal Project Representative.

”PIGGAREP has assisted the region in determining what are the barriers to introducing productive use of renewable energy and what actions countries can take practically to reduce their emissions,” explained Mr. Ronneberg.

“For example, it has illustrated for countries in the Pacific the amounts of photovoltaic electricity production they can introduce without experiencing grid instability.”

At the Warsaw climate conference it was also decided that the INDC’s will be put forward in a clear and transparent manner.  Developed country governments were urged to provide support to developing countries for this important domestic process.

Here at the Lima COP it is expected that the minimum elements needed to make up an INDC is agreed upon to ensure they serve the purpose of helping to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  Despite this, countries can move forward with developing their INDC as these are a list of national actions and how they are contributing to lower the emissions that are already happening.

“Fiji is hoping that we can start on developing our INDC next year, we have a few partners that we will be working with to develop ours,” said Mr. Mahendra Kumar, head of the Climate Change Division in the Foreign Affairs Office of Fiji.

“We have a national renewable energy policy that has huge ambitions, much of our electricity is generated by hydro and we are doing quite well with that.  We do need to supplement this with other sources such as photovoltaic which will require further policy changes.  All of our work in this will be included in our INDC.”

When it comes to the INDC’s this is also an opportunity for the Small Island Developing States to showcase the work being done in the Pacific to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“Small can be beautiful too, we have the opportunities to achieve what the bigger countries can only aspire to,” said Ambassador Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Samoa’s Permanent to the United Nations at the Pacific side event on Mitigation and INDC’s at the Lima COP.

“For Samoa we see this as basically telling the world what we can do to benefit our communities first and foremost before telling others what to do.  It’s us putting our actions on the table.”

Outcomes of the INDC negotiations will be made available at the end of the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which is held from 1 – 12 December in Lima, Peru.

The Pacific delegations represented at the UNFCCC COP 20 this year are from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu.

For more information on the UNFCCC COP 20 please visit, for more news on Pacific events at the UNFCCC COP 20 please


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