AOSIS Ministers express serious concerns over COP28 Global Stocktake draft text

Cedric Schuster MP (Photo: Mahmoud Khaled/COP28 UAE)

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Chairs Minister, Cedric Schuster of Samoa, Monday voiced deep worries regarding the process and content of the document in reaction to the COP28 Presidency’s draft text on the Global Stocktake (GST).

Minister Schuster, joined by other AOSIS Ministers, including Minister John Silk of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Minister Gustav Aitaro of Palau, Milagros De Camps of the Dominican Republic, and Mona Ainu’u of Niue, raised important points during a press briefing in Dubai.

“We are concerned that the process at this time is not in the spirit of multilateralism.

As SIDS, we feel our voices are not being heard, while it appears that several other Parties have enjoyed preferential treatment, compromising the transparency and inclusivity of the process,” the AOSIS chair said.

One of the primary worries highlighted by the AOSIS Chair was the perceived weak language in the draft text, potentially jeopardising efforts to maintain the crucial 1.5°C warming limit.

“Our red line is a strong commitment to keeping the 1.5°C warming limit. Any text that compromises 1.5 will be rejected,” he said.

Pointing out specific deficiencies in the GST draft, Minister Schuster called attention to Paragraph 39, which he described as having “weak language on fossil fuels” that is “completely insufficient.”

The AOSIS Chair stressed the need for clear language on the phase-out of fossil fuels.

“Could is unacceptable. States MUST take action on fossil fuel phase-out,” Minister Schuster emphasised. 

Finance and mitigation were highlighted as interconnected issues by the AOSIS Ministers. 

They called on developed countries to lead in finance flows, emphasising the important of strong commitments on phasing out fossil fuels.

“We will not sign our death certificate. We cannot sign onto text that does not have strong commitments on phasing out fossil fuels,” he stressed.

The AOSIS Ministers stressed the gravity of the situation, reminding the global community that their small island developing states are on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“We have been asked throughout this process, what is at stake if these negotiations do not return a strong outcome that Keeps 1.5 Alive. How can you not understand – it is our very survival that is at stake?

“This is why in every room; our negotiators have been pushing tirelessly for decisions that align with staying under 1.5 degrees of warming. That is why if Parties continue to oppose the phase out of fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies, they must stop and question their own commitment to this process.

“We call on our allies to support our call and stand with us to keep 1.5 alive. AOSIS will never stop fighting for a future where our people cannot just survive but thrive,” said Minister Schuster. 

Meanwhile in response to the released draft text on Global Stocktake, Lavetanalagi Seru, Regional Coordinator, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network says: “If our progress is to be measured against the 1.5-degree benchmark, then it’s clear that this text has already failed. 

“We’ve heard Leaders throughout these two weeks talk about climate ambition and the 1.5-degree being our northern star, yet the reality is that countries beholden to the fossil fuel industry continue to weaken the ambition, by proposing texts that do not course correct, nor address the root cause of the climate crisis.

“What confronts us is a hollow echo of promises, none sufficient to meet the 1.5C goal. Instead of a robust and concrete energy package, what we find is a feeble list of options that will do nothing to course-correct. 

“This is no doubt the product of the COP28 Presidency’s attempt to appease a select group of blockers made up of historic and current large emitters. It lays bare the reality of how these multilateral spaces are increasingly becoming captured by the fossil fuel industry and a stark reminder of the perils that accompany entrusting the presidency to a petro-state.

The time for vague options and half-hearted measures has long passed; the urgency of the climate crisis demands unwavering resolve and decisive action. We cannot afford the luxury of lukewarm efforts when the stakes are as high as the very future of our world,” he said in a statement.

Former Fiji’s Ambassador to the UN, Satyendra Prasad said the new COP28 draft text is deeply disappointing.

“For the Blue Pacific, 1.5 is not its guardrails: it is the finite boundary for human security and state viability,” he said. A final text will be negotiated in the final hours at COP28 and is expected to be finalised on Tuesday.