Keep 1.5 alive, it’s our red line, Samoa as AOSIS Chair at COP28 preparatory meeting

Photo: SPREP

As thousands of delegates descend upon Dubai, UAE, for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28), Samoa as the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), has called for unity and solidarity from the AOSIS membership to ensure the fight for a 1.5 degree world remains alive.

Samoa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), His Excellency Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa’olelei Luteru, delivered the call at the opening of the two-day AOSIS preparatory meeting at the Expo City, Dubai, on Sunday. 

“We cannot and we must not move away from the 1.5 ambition. I know there has been talk of accepting something less than what we want, I urge you to please stay in solidarity, our position is 1.5, it is non-negotiable it is our red line,” Ambassador Fatumanava said. 

“We have to be solid and united in that position because anything else I think we know what the consequences are. Our ambition in terms of 1.5 is absolutely critical, it really is where everything else hangs. What’s the use of talking about other issues if we find that this central element in our position as the Alliance of Small Island States is not met?”

COP28 will take place from Thursday 30 November 2023 – Tuesday 12 December 2023. The Conference is expected to convene over 70,000 participants, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts, youth, and non-state actors. As mandated by the Paris Climate Agreement, COP28 UAE will deliver the first ever Global Stocktake (GST), a comprehensive evaluation of progress against climate goals.

“The Global Stocktake gives us the evidence to reorient, look at areas where we need more focus and areas that will require us to rethink our strategies. I want to emphasise that this is about all of us together, it’s not about individual countries, it’s not about individual subregions; it’s about all of us as small islands developing states.”

Since 1990, AOSIS has represented the interests of the 39 small island and low-lying coastal developing states in international climate change, sustainable development negotiations and processes. As a voice for the vulnerable, its mandate is more than amplifying marginalised voices as it also advocates for these countries’ interests. At COP28, Samoa as Chair has vowed to continue this workCOP2. 

“We have to demonstrate unity and solidarity among ourselves if we are going to succeed,” said Ambassador Fatumanava. “There are times when we will find that our national positions do not quite fit in with the SIDS position, but I think this is part of the process and being part of the alliances. There will be time when there are slight differences in the context of national priorities, but I think when we are here, we need to put on our SIDS hats. I think that’s critical in terms of achieving our priorities as we go to COP.”

Looking back at the history of COP, Ambassador Fatumanava added: “I think the lessons of the last 27 COPs are all clear to all of us, this may sound cliché, but we come with a lot of expectations and a lot of hope and many times we go away feeling disappointed. I hope that at this COP we can go away feeling a little bit better than we have been feeling from the last 27 COPs.”

COP28 is taking place a time when humanity is breaking all the wrong records on climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions and the global average temperature are hitting new highs, while extreme weather events are occurring more often, developing faster and becoming more intense, according to the 2023 edition of the Emissions Gap Report. For SIDS, this compounds conditions that threaten our very existence. The IPCC, in its AR6 Synthesis Report, noted that above a global temperature rise of 1.5°C, SIDS regions face impacts which may be irreversible.

This is why COP28 matters, especially what comes from the Global Stocktake. AOSIS also identified an early capitalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund, Climate Finance, Mitigation Ambition and Adaptation, particularly on the Global Goal on Adaption (GGA), as some of the key issues to be discussed in Dubai. 

“Loss and Damage was a big achievement from COP27. It’s critical we take a decision at this COP in terms of operalisation of the Fund, I think it’s something that you have all fought for, for quite some time. It’s important we operationalise the Fund, or at least a decision on how we move ahead,” said Ambassador Fatumanava. 

“On climate finance, it’s an extremely important issue and our position is clear. As part of that process, we need to ensure that when we are talking about the 100 billion that was promised to be made available in 2020… its now 2024, it’s clear that readjustment needs to be made and it is where your advocacy as members of the Alliance will be very important.”

At COP28, Samoa as AOSIS Chair urged delegates that we must go forth with a renewed intensity and urgency to achieve the best possible outcome for our fellow vulnerable islanders on the frontlines of this crisis not of our making.  “The special needs and circumstances of SIDS must be acknowledged. It is my ardent hope that all countries will live up to their duty and obligation to do right by humanity and curb the worst effects of climate change before it is too late.”