Jamaica and other SIDS desperate for action at COP28
A Jamaican delegation is now in Dubai for critical talks as part of the grouping of small island developing states (SIDS) from the Pacific, Caribbean, Africa, Indian Ocean, and South China Seas, which have converged ahead of the pivotal United Nations climate summit, COP28.
The SIDS are using the meetings, which started on Sunday, to strengthen positions on priorities that must be achieved to give these countries the best chance of sustainably coping with worsening climate change impacts.
Data from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Climate Impact Lab released this morning in the Human Climate Horizons show that by 2100 climate change is expected to cause the submergence of a significant share of land in The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, and Seychelles.
According to the report, the rise in sea levels brought about by climate change has exposed land, home to more than 14 million people, to the risk of a 20-year flood since the first decade of this century.
“Continuing our current course of global greenhouse gas emissions is projected, by the end of the century, to expand this floodplain — where floods have a five per cent chance of striking in any given year — to areas today populated by nearly 73 million people.
“Land — home to roughly five per cent of the population of coastal cities, such as Santos, Brazil; Cotonou, Benin; and Kolkata, India — will face increased flood risk by mid-century. Flood risk exposure is anticipated to double to 10 per cent of the population by the end of the century.
“Many low-lying regions along the coasts of Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia may face a severe threat of permanent inundation, part of an alarming trend, with the potential to trigger a reversal in human development in coastal communities worldwide,” said the report.
At SIDS prep days in Dubai, which ended on Monday, all lead coordinators for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the negotiating bloc for SIDS, presented on the state of play, giving critical updates on the various thematic topics that will be negotiated at COP28.
Chair of AOSIS, Ambassador Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa’olelei Luteru, stated that AOSIS will be taking a strong position on issues central to safeguarding vulnerable countries, such as the Global Stocktake (GST), a tool within the Paris Agreement which assesses progress of all countries’ actions to address climate change.
“This is a global mission for the greater good. SIDS have been making significant strides on climate action, but we must be realistic. We account for less than one per cent of global emissions. The developed countries which contribute 80 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions must raise their ambition. They must lead on fossil fuel phase out. Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and making deep, drastic cuts to ensure we reach net zero by 2050 is of the essence. This is a matter of survival not just for our islands, but our world,” said Luteru.
“For our countries on the front lines of this climate crisis, a strong outcome on the Global Stocktake is imperative. We know we are woefully behind on achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement… We know we must stay within the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change impacts our islands are already suffering from, including loss of land from sea-level rise, catastrophic loss of lives and homes from more frequent and severe storms, lack of drinkable water, agricultural depletion, and more. The GST should be based on the best available science which supports this need and gives us a road map for course correction,” added Luteru.
He said, in addition to the GST and keeping 1.5 alive, at COP28 we must achieve a robust framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation to accelerate adaptation action.
“Failing here is not an option for SIDS. On loss and damage funding arrangements, we look forward to countries taking the recommendations of the Transitional Committee on board so we can finally open the channels of finance to assist the vulnerable countries that desperately need the support. It is fundamental that the Loss and Damage Fund has an adequate scale of capitalisation, at least US$100 billion for the first four years of the fund.
“Small island developing states have been crying out for urgent climate action for over three decades, and we can no longer be ignored. Now is the time for concrete action, and we are amplifying our call. Real results matter to us. We cannot, must not go into COP28 banking on a lot of pledges with no tangible commitments. Our survival is at stake.
“We are all in this together. Small island developing states may be on the immediate front lines of the climate crisis, but be assured, if we do not act together, we will all be affected. The climate crisis is here and it is very real. The time to act must be now,” declared Luteru.