Milestone COP28 side event calls for urgent global action on 1.5°C goal

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry; Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Mark Brown; and Tonga Prime Minister, Siaosi Sovaleni in Dubai (Photo: PIFS/Facebook)

Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown has highlighted the nature of the 1.5°C target, emphasising the commitment required to uphold the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The COP28 meeting in Dubai on Sunday witnessed a milestone side event when leaders from the U.S., India, China, Australia, and Pacific nations gathered to discuss the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

“The 1.5°C target is a must. We must commit to the 2015 Paris Agreement.” PM Brown said in his opening statement.

Highlighting the shortfall in carbon emission and financing targets, Brown stressed the critical nature of staying on track for the Pacific’s 2050 strategy. 

“Without achieving 1.5 degrees, we will go off track,” he warned.

PM Brown also called on global partners to recognise climate change as an existential issue for the Pacific, urging them to demonstrate leadership and take urgent action to reduce emissions and increase climate financing.

“We already know that the latest IPCC report project that the world will pass the 1.5 degrees’ threshold by the early 2030, if urgent action is not taken now. To reign on target, the science tells us that emissions must be halved by 2030 that’s merely six years away. Therefore, this COP is the opportunity to re-commit to the 1.5-degree track and re-aligned the climate agenda accordingly. 

“For Pacific countries this increase in climate impacts as we have seen already compound the conditions that threatens the very existence of our Pacific countries. We’ve heard Vanuatu had to deal with three devastated cyclones this year.

“Our message to all our partners is clear, climate change is an existential issue to our blue Pacific, and we call on our partners to demonstrate global leadership and take urgent action to rapidly reduce emissions and commit to greater advancing climate financing in order to hold our emissions to 1.5 C,” PM Brown told the side event.

U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry reiterated the urgency of prioritising the fight to keep global warming to 1.5°C. 

“We have to be at the 1.5-degree plan,” he told the side event organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Kerry also emphasised the need for the world’s largest economies, responsible for 80 percent of emissions to publicly commit to the pathway to 1.5 degrees.

“The G7 countries voted for the phasing out of unmitigated fossil fuel emissions, with science dictating 1.5 degrees as our North Star,” Kerry told the side event in Dubai.

He stressed the importance of aligning every decision with the goal of advancing 1.5 degrees, recognising the global race against time.

“Every decision we make should be geared to say, ‘does this advance the 1.5 degrees or is it going to be more destructive and take us in the wrong direction?”

“We are in a race against time, and I know that everybody here does accept that concept.

“We must secure an ambitious outcome in the Global Stocktake decision that helps keep within reach our goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 C degrees,” said Kerry.

The Pacific Youth also made a strong call for the 1.5-degree goal at the COP28 side event on Leadership for a 1.5 World.

The 1.5°C threshold is crucial, as beyond this level, tipping points become more likely, leading to dramatic shifts in Earth’s life support system. The realities presented at the side event leave no room for complacency, urging the global community to act fast and to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis