Kosi Latu, who will become Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in Samoa next month said Prime Minister Sopoaga, leader of the small island nation of Tuvalu, as lead negotiator and spokesman of the Pacific led from the front, braving long negotiation sessions till the early hours of the next day.
“While other leaders returned home, Prime Minister Sopoaga stayed and demonstrated exceptional leadership at the negotiations,” Latu told Pacific journalists who covered COP21. Other island government officials confirmed Sopoaga’s drive and determination were inspiring as he brushed aside enormous pressures from leaders of bigger and wealthier nations to ease up on the Pacific’s red lines in the negotiations.
These were a below 1.5 degree Celsius target, stand-alone loss and damage mechanism, and scaled up, adequate and more accessible climate financing. Latu admitted that while there were a few red lines remaining in the negotiations for a new climate change agreement, he was “quietly optimistic” that a deal would be reached.
“One of the possible compromises on our red line on loss and damage that has been offered is the inclusion of the Warsaw Mechanism into the agreement. This Warsaw Mechanism is about adaptation, an instrument that acts as a work plan, but it’s an interim mechanism that needs to end by 2020.
“Our rationale for pushing for loss and damage is that for us in the Pacific, loss and damage goes beyond adaptation. For example, if our island goes under the sea, what will be there to adapt?”
The new DG of SPREP says on the below 1.5 degrees target, the list of countries that seem to agree with the Pacific position is growing. Instead of the 2 degrees or well below 2 degrees wording being offered in the draft, the islands would prefer to stick with the below 1.5 degrees.
He also feels there’s room for some convergence on climate financing. What remains to be worked out is the how and when aspects of the funds.