Small islands keep climate on the agenda despite coronavirus crisis

Strategies to recover economically from the COVID-19 crisis need to set us on track towards meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals, attendees of the Placencia Ambition Forum heard during the event organised by the Alliance of Small Island Developing States.

Date28 April 2020
©Seann McAuliffe
 

The high-level meeting, originally planned to take place in Belize, had to be reimagined as a virtual forum due to coronavirus restrictions, was supported by a number of organisations including  Climate Analytics.

The three day Forum brought together numerous prominent speakers, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Belize Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow, Environment Minister of Italy Sergio Costa and UK Secretary of State for Energy Alok Sharma, to discuss the path forward for small island developing states and least developed countries and advancing the Paris Agreement globally.

Other notable speakers, including Environment Minister of Chile and COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt, Climate Envoy for the Marshall Islands Tina Stege and New Zealand Climate Change Minister James Shaw, also gave addresses at the forum.

The government of Belize, as chair of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS), hosted the three day online event, ‘Keeping the Drumbeat of Ambition alive’, which took place between 20-22 April, concluding on Earth Day 2020.

“Let us not lose our focus on climate change. The recent devastation caused by Cyclone Harold in the South Pacific is yet one more reminder that we are in the midst of a climate crisis,” Guterres told participants. “Such events will only become more regular and deadly unless we act decisively and in concert as an international community.”

Green stimulus packages

Attendees at the forum agreed that stimulus packages designed to recover from the COVID-19 crisis should be aligned with the world’s climate targets so as to enable a green transition.

They also agreed there is a need to maintain momentum and mobilise additional financing to meet the goal of keeping warming within 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic shows that it is possible to greatly reduce our fossil fuel consumption and our emissions. Governments need to ensure that their strategies to rebound from the crisis set us on a path to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal,” commented Climate Analytics’ Rueanna Haynes, who chaired the second day of the event, with the focus on regional opportunities for ambitious low-carbon development and adaptation drawing on experiences across Africa, Asia and Europe.


PAF – Day 2 [Full Session] from Alliance of Small Island States on Vimeo.

Small island developing states and least developed countries, often on the frontline of climate change, reaffirmed their commitment to work together to advance climate action globally. Representatives from LDCs restated their commitment to net zero emissions across all countries by 2050.

Enhanced climate plans

Governments are required to produce new climate plans, nationally determined contributions (NDCs), in 2020, as part of their responsibilities linked to the Paris Agreement.

“It is very clear that the members of AOSIS intend to have ambitious targets in the energy sector through the NDC revisions for 2020,” said Climate Analytics’ Frances Fuller, summarising the Energy Session for the Caribbean and Pacific regions, to which she contributed to as Reserve Chair.

“As the world and SIDS are preparing, responding and recovering from COVID-19, the session expressed that efforts towards achieving the aspirational targets in the NDCs, should not be undermined, and climate change and SIDS-specific vulnerabilities are kept at the core of approaches,” she said.

Participants from other regions also affirmed their support for renewed action to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. Environment Minister of Italy Sergio Costa confirmed that his country would seek to enhance its NDC in 2020.

The UK government, Climate Analytics, the NDC Partnership, the Climate Ambition Support Alliance, Wilton Park and the Independent Diplomat organisation supported the event.

More information about the Placencia Ambition Forum is available on the AOSIS website:

Event recap

Placencia Ambition Forum 2020