Wednesday, February 28, 2024

“We don’t sign our death certificates.” Why are island nations opposing the “COP 28” draft?


Some representatives of small island states said on Monday they would reject the current draft agreement released at the COP28 conference of parties in Dubai because it lacked clear language on phasing out fossil fuels.

“We will not be signing our death certificate,” Samoa’s natural resources and environment minister, Tuulsolozulu Cedric Schuster, told reporters at the COP28 conference.

A draft of a possible climate deal at the COP28 summit on Monday proposed a set of options that countries could take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it ignored the “phasing out” of fossil fuels that many countries have called for.

The draft resolution is expected to pave the way for a final round of contentious negotiations at a two-week summit in Dubai, which has exposed deep international divisions over whether oil, gas and coal have a place in a climate-friendly future.

What are Small Island States?

Small island states are a group of mid-ocean countries consisting of 39 island countries belonging to three regions: the Caribbean, the Pacific, Africa, the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea (AIS).

The countries joined the coalition representing them, known as AOSIS for short, because these countries are most vulnerable to climate impacts, including sea level rise, Reuters reported.

According to the alliance’s official website, the countries located in the Caribbean are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

For the islands of the Pacific region, they are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Upala, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

In Africa, the Indian Ocean and South China Sea are several island nations: Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Maldives, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Singapore and East Timor.

The economy of island states?

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, Small Island Developing States were recognized as a special case for their environment and development, the United Nations said on its official website.

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According to the United Nations, the total population of small island developing states is 65 million, which is less than 1% of the world’s population, but this group faces unique social, economic and environmental challenges.

Small Island Developing States face many challenges, including the remote geography of many. As a result, many small island developing states face high import and export costs for goods and merchandise and irregular international traffic volumes. However, they have to rely on foreign markets for many products due to a narrow resource base.

For small island developing states, the area of ​​the exclusive economic zone, that is, the sea under their control, is on average 28 times the country’s land area.

So for many small island developing states, most natural resources are available from the oceans.

The United Nations explained that several factors, such as small population size, distance from international markets, high transport costs, external economic shocks and fragile terrestrial and marine ecosystems, make small island developing states particularly vulnerable to biodiversity loss and climate change. They have no economic alternatives.

How is climate change affecting island nations?

The United Nations has indicated that climate change will have the most tangible impact on small island developing countries.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate made the 2017 tropical cyclone season one of the deadliest and most destructive on record, destroying communications, energy and transport infrastructure, homes, health facilities and schools.

Emerging climate changes, such as sea level rise, pose an existential threat to small island communities, requiring drastic measures such as population relocation, and the challenges this poses. These challenges are compounded by limited institutional capacity and lack of financial resources.

Biodiversity is an important issue for the livelihoods of many small island developing states, as industries such as tourism and fishing account for more than half of the gross domestic product of small island economies.

However, the importance of these natural resources goes beyond economic, as biodiversity has aesthetic and spiritual value to many island communities. Over the centuries, these communities have benefited from increased biodiversity, food supplies, clean water, reduced coastal erosion, soil and sand formation, and protection from storm surges.

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Strong biodiversity generates income through industries in small island developing states, but also helps prevent additional costs from climate change, soil erosion, pollution, floods, natural disasters and other destructive events.

At the regional level, SIDS also receives support, primarily from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).

Why are island nations interested in climate conference?

According to Agence France-Presse, small islands vulnerable to hurricanes or rising sea levels are most likely to suffer the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Some of these islands are in danger of simply disappearing. Recently, Australia announced that it would gradually offer climate asylum to about 11,000 citizens in Tuvalu, a small group of Pacific islands threatened by seawater.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, small island states are playing a key role in pushing for a phase-out of fossil fuels to curb climate warming as soon as possible. But the crisis is that, in current negotiations, some other countries are trying to agree to less ambitious “reductions” in the use of fossil fuels.

A key goal for small island developing States is to limit climate warming to below 1.5°C.

This trend is supported by the Group of Pacific Islands, the Caribbean and elsewhere, which led the push for a more ambitious cap in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The islands must work to turn this climate ambition into concrete policies, and in Dubai, talks are focusing on the future of fossil fuels, with some countries pushing to include a goal to “give up” on oil, gas and coal in the final text. .

However, some countries in the AOSIS group that exploit fossil fuels, such as Trinidad and Tobago or Papua New Guinea, benefit from demand for liquefied natural gas.

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But the islanders want rich producing countries like the US or Saudi Arabia to take the initiative to abandon it.

The current draft of COP28?

The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), an intergovernmental organization, indicated that its members would not agree to the agreement in its current form and criticized the negotiations as lacking transparency and inclusiveness.

“We will not sign our death certificate,” Schuster said in a statement, “and we will not sign a text that includes strong commitments to divest from fossil fuels.”

According to CNN, climate advocates have warned that the COP28 climate summit could be on the brink of failure after a new draft of the framework agreement removed a call to phase out fossil fuels, a key driver of the climate crisis.

Instead, the draft released on Monday, more than six hours earlier than expected, used dilutive language on fossil fuels, an apparent concession to oil-producing nations opposed to the move.

The draft calls on countries to take steps to reduce pollution caused by global warming, including reducing the consumption and production of oil, coal and gas. Many climate experts and observers have criticized the draft for its vague language, including the undefined use of the word “could” and the lack of a specific timeframe, according to the network.

More than 100 countries will come to the Dubai talks to support fossil fuel divestment language, and many more are likely to voice their opposition at future sessions. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have lobbied against including any reference to fossil fuels and may try to water down the text further.

If the current draft does not gain widespread support, negotiators may have to return to the discussion.

Earlier drafts included several options calling for countries to phase out climate-polluting oil, gas and coal, an encouraging sign that this year’s summit agreement will be stronger than previous years, observers said.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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