By Victor V. Saulon

Vulnerable countries push bold Paris goals

Posted on December 02, 2015

COUNTRIES that describe themselves most vulnerable to climate change have issued a collective declaration calling for zero emissions and 100% adoption of renewable energy by mid-century.

The coalition, composed of middle-income, least-developed and small island developing nations, said the ambitious goal was to keep the world on track to keeping global temperature rises at below 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The ongoing consensus among industrialized countries is a limit of not more 2 degrees.

The countries issued the statement in Paris as leaders from around 150 nations attend the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in a meeting that aims to forged a binding and universal accord on climate change.

In Paris, Philippine President Benigno S. C. Aquino III presided over a high-level meeting for members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, an agenda-setting platform that had a gathering in Manila in November ahead of COP21. The forum had adopted the Manila-Paris Declaration that set a three-year road map of activities aimed at enhancing cooperation among its members.

“Individually, we are already survivors; collectively, we are a force towards a fairer, more climate-proactive world,” Mr. Aquino said in a speech delivered at the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting in Manila, the finance ministers belonging to the forum had met. They have now set a target of $20-billion new investment to support initiatives aimed at fighting global warming. These include actions aims at regional, domestic and private sector mobilization.

The “vulnerable 20” countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Ethiopia was confirmed as the incoming chair of the forum for 2016-2017.

“Climate change does not affect us equally. Those countries which have contributed least to the problem are often affected the most. We are here to cooperate. We are here to share experiences. Even if we contribute the least and suffer the most, we do not sit idle. Ethiopia, for example, communicated in its INDC that it will reduce emissions by 64% by 2030,” said Kare Chawicha, Ethiopia’s state minister of environment, forest and climate change.

On the first day of the Paris talks, 11 donors pledged close to $250 million in fresh funds for adaptation support to the most vulnerable countries, the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) said in its Web site. UNFCCC has set the process for agreeing to climate specific actions over time.

Also on Monday, UNFCCC said there was a unprecedented call from up to 40 governments, businesses and international organizations for accelerated action to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.