PRESS RELEASE: Small Islands Call on Marrakech to Live Up To Action COP Billing

At the opening of COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, which beyond all expectations will now serve as the first meeting of parties to the Paris Agreement after the first treaty committing nearly all nations to lowering greenhouse gas emissions became international law last week, Thoriq Ibrahim, Environment Minister for the Maldives and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, released the following statement on behalf of its members:

“The entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a cause for celebration, but we must make sure we do not become complacent. In many ways the hard work still lies ahead, and history has shown that the same political momentum that brought the agreement into force within a year of its adoption can just as quickly shift toward other priorities.

“At the same time, climate change impacts are transforming our world faster than we can adapt, particularly for Small Island Developing States. The past two years have seen record, Category 5, cyclones in the Pacific, and a highly unusual storms in the Indian Ocean. We also saw the worst coral bleaching event ever continue its devastating circumnavigation of the world. Just last month, of course, Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc on the Bahamas and other parts of the Caribbean before it moved on to another AOSIS member, Haiti, where it killed hundreds of people and caused at least $1.9 billion in damage. Elsewhere, droughts, floods, and famine remind us that the approximately one-degree Celsius of warming since pre-industrial times we have already experienced carries severe risks and that the world must work in earnest to achieve the 1.5 degree limit agreed in Paris.

“Yet, the current NDCs would result in warming of 3 degrees Celsius or more, making it more critical than ever for Parties to seize every opportunity to raise mitigation ambition. Here in Marrakech, at the Global Climate Action Agenda led by the High-Level Champions, new cooperative initiatives addressing near-term emissions reductions will be announced. Moving forward, the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 will be the next key moment to close the dangerous emissions gap.

“Transforming our mitigation contributions into action and helping vulnerable communities adapt to impacts that can no longer be avoided, however, all rest on the provision of adequate means of implementation. So far the $100 billion a year by 2020 figure reaffirmed in Paris has yet to fully materialise and it still remains to be seen whether adaptation finance will be scaled up to the same levels provided for mitigation as promised.

“Finally, there are still opportunities to implement the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage to ensure it fulfills its purpose of helping vulnerable developing countries manage climate change impacts that go beyond loss and damage.

“We have recently witnessed important progress to address climate change with action on HFCs. Now we urge all countries to ratify the Paris Agreement to make it truly universal and move swiftly to achieve its objectives.”