AOSIS Opening Statement, APA 1-6 – Bangkok, Thailand

On behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, allow me to thank you again for your leadership and commitment to this effort as we work in earnest to complete the Paris Agreement Work Programme.

This meeting opens against the backdrop of deadly heat waves, floods, and fires from Japan to the Middle East and North America to Europe. Islands in the Caribbean are now bracing for this season’s hurricane season even as they continue to rebuild from the last.

It is no secret that we are falling short of the level of mitigation needed to keep climate impacts from becoming far, far worse. We have also failed to deliver action on adaptation, loss and damage, and finance needed to manage impacts that can now no longer be avoided.

Mr. President, the salient question before us today is: Can we muster the political will necessary to dramatically increase our ambition before it is too late?

In our view, we can do our part here in Bangkok by progressing five key areas:

First, we must prioritize the completion of the Paris Agreement Work Programme. A comprehensive and balanced outcome this year is essential so that we can fully operationalize the Paris Agreement. This means increasing the pace of work across all of its elements, and we encourage the APA Co-Chairs to use a firm hand in guiding us forward. We should commit to leaving this session with a negotiating text, and not get bogged down on procedural issues, so that we can move quickly in Poland toward a final, ambitious outcome. We need to ensure that we have put ourselves on track to complete our work at COP24 with a comprehensive text ready to negotiate.

Second, predictable finance is fundamental on achieving our objectives. A comprehensive PAWP—including the full operationalisation of Articles 9.7 and 9.5, the Adaptation Fund serving the Paris Agreement, and progress on a process for setting the new global goal on finance in line with the mandate under APA item 8, is key for a robust finance framework for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, we stress the urgency of initiating a replenishment process guided by the relevant arrangements between the COP and the GCF, particularly paragraphs 17 (a) and (b).

Third, adaptation has taken on even greater meaning and importance for Small Island Developing States in the past few months of 2018. Impacts that are climate related include heatwaves, floods, severe droughts, increases in tropical cyclone activity (many quite intense) is now being experienced at a global scale. This is causing a great strain on the national budgets of the most vulnerable and so we urge Parties to realise the urgency of ensuring that the Paris Agreement delivers on its promises made in a unified consensus in December 2015. Bangkok and Katowice must significantly advance our global efforts to address adaptation.

Fourth, the Talanoa Dialogue has proven to be a useful innovation in this process and the political outcome at COP24 should encourage Parties to communicate or update NDCs in line with the 1.5-degree C temperature limit. In order to achieve this, we will have to scale up the delivery of finance, technology, and capacity building resources needed by developing countries to implement their NDCs. This outcome should feed into the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2019, at which Parties should be encouraged to share their progress towards communicating or updating their NDCs in 2020. The IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees will be a critical input into the Talanoa Dialogue, and must be given full consideration well in advance of the COP.

Finally, loss and damage is a fundamental pillar of the Paris Agreement, standing alongside mitigation and adaptation. Enhancing understanding, action and support on loss and damage is of urgent importance to our member countries who are already coping with a scale of climate impacts that defies their best efforts to adapt.

The Paris Agreement represents a hard-won balance of many interests and we cannot now in good faith omit operationalising and implementing certain parts of it. As such, every effort must be made by all of us to ensure that, for the sake of transparency and to be able to accurately take stock of progress, loss and damage is duly incorporated and appropriately reflected in decisions at COP 24 and beyond, including decisions on finance for averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage.

Mr. President, it is alarming to say the least that every time we meet, we do so in the wake of another extreme temperature record or climate tragedy. We obviously can’t reverse this forbidding trend all on our own, but here we can demonstrate to our concerned communities that real solutions are within reach when we work together toward our common goal.

I assure you of our continued support in this process and look forward to making real progress here.

Vinaka vaka levu.