Pacific islands help bring Paris Agreement into force

The Pacific islands have helped make world history as the Paris Agreement comes into force, with all 14 Pacific island parties to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change having ratified the Paris Agreement.

Playing a pivotal role with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) at the Climate Conference in December last year which brought about the Paris Agreement, the Pacific islands have shown solidarity yet again in ratifying the Agreement which starts from the year 2020.

The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with the intentions to pursue this even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius through a series of actions and commitments. It will also help to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

"It just goes to show if we put our minds collectively to anything as a global family that we can do it. The fact that most of the Small Islands Developing States have taken the lead underscores the strength of our own conviction - this is an existential issue for us so there is no way we were going to wait for others to take the lead," said Samoa's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, H.E Ali'ioaiga Feturi Alisaia.

"I know we are trying to find our way in terms of the practical implications of the Paris Agreement but I believe that where there is a will, there is a way. It can be done."

The Paris Agreement entered into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the UNFCCC accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of the total greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

This was achieved on 5 October this year with 74 parties doing the above accounting for just under 59% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. As of 4 November, the date it came into force, 94 of 197 Parties have ratified the Paris Agreement - this includes all 14 Pacific island parties.

"This is such a monumental step for the Pacific islands, those on the frontlines now feeling the impact of climate change, we must now all work together to ensure we will see the positive results of this on the ground for us in the Pacific region," said Mr Kosi Latu, the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

"SPREP will continue to provide support for our islands members to help achieve this, one avenue will be through the Pacific Climate Change Centre – the regional climate hub for inclusive collaboration to meet the priority adaptation and mitigation priorities of Pacific island countries and territories."

Funded by the Government of Japan in partnership with the Government of Samoa and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the PCCC will be hosted in Samoa. It will be built and ready for action by mid-2018.

While the Paris Agreement is a welcome development, Solomon Islands not only hope to see its operationalisation put into place as it starts in 2020, but also for more countries to ratify the Doha Amendment which establishes the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol spanning climate action for the years leading up to 2020.

"It's one thing for the Paris Agreement to come into force but it's another thing to have it deliver on climate change so I hope the issue of operationalising it and having it actioned is now the focus of discussions here in Marrakech at the 22nd Conference off the Parties to the UNFCCC," said H.E Ambassador Colin Beck, the UN representative from Solomon Islands and Ambassador to the United States.

Solomon Islands and other Small Islands Developing States including the Pacific islands are attending the UN Climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco to take place from 7 to 18 November.

"We'd also like to encourage more countries to ratify the Doha Amendment, the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol."

The Kyoto Protocol legally binds industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below the 1990 level between the five-year commitment periods of 2008 to 2012.

The 1990 level is that of the greenhouse gas emissions recorded in the year 1990 and the five-year period 2008 to 2012 is the first commitment period. The second commitment period lasts from 1 January 2013 until 31 December 2020 and requires parties to reduce their aggregate emissions by 18% below 1990 levels.

As of 26 October 2016, 71 countries have ratified the Doha Amendment, of which eight are Pacific island parties to the UNFCCC. At total of 144 instruments of acceptance are required for the Doha Amendment to enter into force.

"I think we've run out of excuses for not getting a ratification of the Doha Amendment, if we can do it for the Paris Agreement that means we can do it for the Kyoto Protocol also," said Ambassador Beck.

The twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is hosted by Marrakech, Morocco from 7 to 18 November, 2016. During this period the first Conference of the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, known as the CMA, will also take place.

Press Release