Press Release: Small islands say recent extreme weather should motivate climate action

Bonn, Germany— At the opening of the latest round of U.N. climate talks, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 small island and coastal states that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, H.E. Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy for the Maldives, and Chair of AOSIS, released the following statement on behalf of the group:

“Since we last met in Geneva, an onslaught of extreme and deadly weather events have underscored the urgency of our work at this session: Cyclone Pam and Typhoon Maysak, both record breaking storms, left a trail of destruction across the Pacific island states of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia. While the death toll from the devastating heat wave in the sub-continent of India now exceeds 1500. These impacts are happening with grim frequency at an average global temperature increase of less than 1 degree Celsius, reminding us that without bold action far worse is likely to follow.”

“The impacts are also further evidence of what people from small islands have known for some time, and what the recent technical report from the Structured Expert Dialogue of the 2013-2015 Review confirms: 2 degrees of warming is much too high, and would entail risks that would be incompatible with the ultimate objective of the Convention.

“That said, the report confirms that limiting warming to well below 1.5 degrees C is still feasible, but requires early peaking and sharp reductions in global emissions. The science of the IPCC WG3 and 2014 UNEP Gap Report further shows that zero global GHG emissions would be needed by 2060-2080.  To that end, the view of the most vulnerable countries, and the majority of Parties to the Convention is the right one – a 1.5 degree limit must be a part of the Paris agreement for the sake of present and future generations.

“To that end, Workstream 2, which focuses on pre-2020 ambition, stands out as an essential component of the international effort to ramp up the deployment of proven climate solutions and overcome barriers that have prevented their wider use thus far.

“Likewise, the 2015 Paris agreement must be equal to the task over the long-term. Our view is that a legally binding protocol under the convention that is applicable to all Parties, and in line with keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius, is the best way to achieve that objective. It will also need to give balanced treatment to key areas, including mitigation, finance, capacity building, technology, and adaptation.

“Finally, as the SED Report suggests, the impacts of even 2 degrees of warming are likely to overwhelm our ability to adapt, therefore Loss and Damage must be treated separately as a stand-alone element of the 2015 agreement and ongoing work under the Convention will need to be enhanced, particularly the development of an approach to addressing permanent and irreversible losses and damages with commensurate funding. The potential for innovative sources of support must be explored with efforts made to build on the outputs of previous, planned work, processes, and COP decisions.”