A Message From The Chair

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1 Web Version Update preferences Unsubscribe Like Tweet Forward A Message From The Chair It s a big year for small islands. As we work to conclude our regional preparations for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2014, which also happens to be the International Year of SIDS, we have an unprecedented opportunity to shape the global sustainable development agenda for years to come. Jamaica, Fiji, and the Seychelles hosted very productive meetings this summer, and with the upcoming interregional gathering in Barbados at the end of the month, it is incumbent upon us to move the discussions beyond identifying priorities and toward concrete plans for action. What s more, at the urging of AOSIS, the United Nations Secretary General announced a Leader s Summit for next year to address the climate change emergency, which will be a key political moment for countries to raise their mitigation ambition in line with scientific recommendations. We have had great success working together over the years from the founding of AOSIS over two decades ago to fight climate change to the important progress we made last year at the Rio+20 conference and many other instances in between. The SIDS Conference and Leaders Summit provide important opportunities to build on this progress and lay out a sustainable development pathway that reflects our priorities. To be as successful as possible, however, we must be sure to speak with one voice. I look forward to continue to build the foundation for a Zero-Draft that meets all of our diverse interests and achieves the most ambitious outcome possible for small islands. Our access to sustainable development opportunities and, in many cases, our very survival depends on it. With warm and best wishes, Marlene Moses SIDS Negotiator Training Earlier this month, AOSIS representatives concluded the 2014 Climate Change Negotiation Training and ADP Coordination meeting outside New York City. Page 1 of 6

2 The Government of Australia sponsored the event and UNDP coordinated the travel arrangements and other logistics. Read Full Story New Research On Sea Level Rise A study by the Potsdam Institute published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that greenhouse gases emitted today will cause sea levels to rise for centuries to come, an impact with potentially catastrophic implications for AOSIS members. Read Full Story UNFCCC Intercessional Recap The June UNFCCC intercessional meeting in Bonn was the scene of another drawn out agenda fight that had repercussions for the entire negotiations. The debate played out in the line of talks under the Subsidiary Bodies for Implementation (SBI), which addresses several key priorities for AOSIS, including loss and damage. Read Full Story SIDS Negotiator Training Earlier this month, AOSIS representatives concluded the 2014 Climate Change Negotiation Training and ADP Coordination meeting outside New York City. The Government of Australia sponsored the event and UNDP coordinated the travel arrangements and other logistics. Both were gracious in agreeing to stray from the conventional format of such workshops to bring in CM Partners, a Harvard University-affiliated consulting group that specializes in preparing government and business leaders for difficult negotiations. We thought the skills CM Partners teach are particularly suited to the climate change talks where we often draw hard lines and stand our ground as long as possible or, on the other hand, give in too early and walk away feeling frustrated that we fell short of our goals. CM Partners offers an alternative, based on decades of research, called a "principled negotiation." Under this approach, parties endeavor to make objective and rational statements about their interests and clearly articulate why they are important to them. We spent several sessions developing these skills and then had an opportunity to practice them during a facilitated dialogue on the ADP. The exercise was not intended to set consensus positions, but rather to help members articulate the diverse interests that will need to be reflected as we Page 2 of 6

3 continue to develop our thinking as it relates to the 2015 agreement. New Research on Sea Level Rise A study by the Potsdam Institute published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that greenhouse gases emitted today will cause sea levels to rise for centuries to come, an impact with potentially catastrophic implications for AOSIS members. It found that each degree of global warming is likely to lead to sea level rise of more than 2 meters in the future. Currently, thermal expansion and melting glaciers are the most important factors causing changes in sea level, but the loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will be the dominant contributors within the next two millennia, according to the study. Half of that rise might come from ice-loss in Antarctica, which now contributes less than 10 percent. Other studies have made similar connections in the past, but this was the first of its kind to combine evidence from early climate history with extensive data from computer models of all four major contributors to long-term global sea-level rise. The Potsdam study analyzed data from sea-bottom sediments and ancient raised shorelines around the world and combined them with models based on the fundamental laws of physics. The Antarctic computer simulations were able to simulate the past five million years of ice history, and the other two ice models were directly calibrated against observational data which in combination makes the scientists confident that these models are correctly estimating the future evolution of long-term sea-level rise, Peter Clark, a paleo-climatologist at Oregon State University and co-author on the study said in a press release. Scientists say that while it remains difficult to simulate rapid ice-loss from Greenland and Antarctica, the models used were able to capture loss that occurs on longer time scales. Under the scenario studied, if global mean temperature rises by 4 degrees compared to preindustrial times, which is projected to happen within less than a century, if bold action to reduce emissions is not taken, the Antarctic ice sheet will contribute about 50 percent of sea-level rise over the next two millennia and Greenland will add another 25 percent to the total sea-level rise. Thermal expansion will contribute about 20 percent, and the contribution from mountain glaciers will decline to less than 5 percent as many of them will shrink to a minimum. The study provides AOSIS with more evidence to argue for rapid emissions reductions, as well as support for the losses and damages from sea-level rise that can no longer be avoided. UNFCCC Intercessional Recap The June UNFCCC intercessional meeting in Bonn was the scene of another drawn out agenda fight that had repercussions for the entire negotiations. Page 3 of 6

4 The debate played out in the line of talks under the Subsidiary Bodies for Implementation (SBI), which addresses several key priorities for AOSIS, including loss and damage. Russia, joined in its objections by Belarus and Ukraine, effectively blocked all work scheduled under the SBI for the duration of the meeting. The dispute stems from the conclusion of COP 18 in Doha last year when the Qatari Chair gaveled the meeting to a close over objections. The episode raised the long-standing dispute over the meaning of consensus in this process and the attendant rules of procedure that have been interpreted in a variety of ways since the Kyoto Protocol was launched in Numerous attempts were made throughout the session to find a solution, but none could be reached and some fear that COP 19 in Warsaw may face a similar challenge at the end of the year. AOSIS members joined efforts to break the stalemate on the plenary floor, acknowledging that it was an issue that needed to be addressed, but encouraged parties to allow progress while an adequate solution was explored in parallel. On the penultimate day of the session the talks broke down and work ended abruptly, leading some members to express their disappointment on the floor and in press coverage. ADP Talks Move Forward Despite the SBI agenda dispute, some progress was made on AOSIS s efforts to address shortterm mitigation ambition under what is known as Workstream 2 of the ADP. At the May session in Bonn, AOSIS submitted a plan to accelerate efforts to lower emissions prior to 2020, in line with what the science says is needed to avoid runaway climate change and a devastating rise in sea level. The June meeting allowed our representatives to meet one-on-one with numerous parties to explain the plan in greater detail and address their ideas or concerns about the proposal. The thrust of the idea is to engage those experts and authorities who are actually responsible for implementing climate solutions leading scientists, engineers, policy analysts, representatives from the private sector, and officials from relevant government ministries, such as finance and energy in a collaborative process capable of delivering measurable results within the required timeframe. Ambassador Moses published a commentary on the proposal that was covered in climate change media outlets, and outreach to other parties is continuing on the lead up to Warsaw. ADP Workstream 1 Talks on the development of the international climate agreement to be signed in 2015 and take effect by 2020 continued during a series of workshops and roundtables. The discussions have led to a number of proposals on how to shape the core elements of the agreement, including from the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. AOSIS s Page 4 of 6

5 submission can be found here. The negotiations are complex, of course, but a central area of contention is the concept of equity: that is, what kind of responsibility do parties have to take action relative to their historic emissions, current emissions, population, wealth, and a variety of other factors? AOSIS discussed these issues and others related to the workstream and experts in the area gave two presentations on equity during the Bonn session. SBSTA Talks under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice continued, though some of its topics, such as the scientific review, were impacted by the agenda delay under SBI. The review is a critical priority for AOSIS as global average temperature rise must be limited to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. While preliminary discussions began, considerable work remains and must be expedited to ensure we fulfill the mandate coming out of Cancun to complete the Review by It is the view of AOSIS that the Joint SBI SBSTA contact group on the Review must, with the assistance of the Structured Expert Dialogue, deliver conclusions that lead to immediate implementation of the actions required to meet the 1.5 degrees target. Also, under SBSTA, some progress was made in the work programme on clarifying the quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets of developed country Parties and our leads on the issue intend to build on the discussions in Warsaw. In terms of market and non-market based approaches, some key questions for elaborating discussions moving forward must be answered. For example, it will be important to explore how the new market mechanism can broaden participation while taking us beyond offsetting to substantial net emission reductions, and how certain non-market based mechanisms can target areas in which market-based approaches have proven problematic. Additionally, we should develop our understanding of why some market-based approaches have failed in the past so we can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. A more detailed treatment of the SBSTA outcome can be found in AOSIS s closing statement on the talks. While frustrating at times, the session did advance key areas of the negotiations, showing that when parties are committed, progress can be made. Nevertheless, the time lost in the SBI will require negotiators in Warsaw to accomplish three-weeks worth of work in two so come ready to hit the ground running. Edit your subscription Unsubscribe Page 5 of 6

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