The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Professor for Ocean and Climate Change and The Director for Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), Elisabeth Holland, delivered a stark message to drive the climate action urgency at the British High Commission organised “The Road to COP 27: Pacific Climate Dialogue with the United Kingdom COP 26 Presidency” discussions.
Professor Holland responded to the question; how can the United Kingdom (UK) work with the academic community to best support efforts to increase climate ambition and action in the lead up to COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt?
USP’s contributions in the IPCC Report
An author of five of the six Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, Professor Holland said that the IPCC remains the standard of excellence for science in informing the implementation of the Paris Agreement from COP 21 and the UNFCCC.
“The IPCC report on 1.5 °C provided the road to achieving the long term temperature goal of 1.5 °C that was reinforced in last year’s 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Party (COP26),” she added.
“The messages from the IPCC 1.5 were: Every Half a Degree Matters! Every Year Matters! Every Choice Matters! The time for action is now! The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere echoes similar sentiments: Every Island Matters! Every Centimeter of Seal Level Rise Matters! Everybody Matters! Every Voice Matters! The time for action is now!”
She said that the IPCC mitigation report would come out next month and be followed by the Synthesis Report before COP 27 in preparation for the global stocktake.
“The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) revisions for increased ambition to reducing emissions, for the countries who are listening to the science are underway. The pushback on the science, the denial of the existence of climate change, has been tremendous. In this environment, diplomacy is hard, science and speaking truth to power is hard,” Professor Holland told more than 200 participants.
“We must all come together to chart a way forward to COP 27 and beyond. We are all in the same canoe, and we are grateful for Samoa’s leadership of Pacific Small Island Developing States and navigating our canoe.”
Professor Holland said from the Pacific; there have been several asks to be considered within the global stocktake:
- Increased ambition for reducing emissions to meet the 1.5 ° C target
- The role of the Ocean in the UNFCCC, including consideration of heat and carbon dioxide uptake by the Ocean resulting in ocean acidification.
- The role of environmental integrity and stewardship, ecosystem accounting, nature based solutions, markets and biodiversity.
- Global Goal on Adaptation for on the ground action(s).
- Accelerated consideration of Loss and Damage.
- Increased climate finance with a rebalancing of investment towards an increased commitment to adaption.
- Human and environmental security, human rights, climate justice and mobility.
“Here we are in 2022, in the midst of the Sixth IPCC Assessment Report to summarise the state of the science and based on Working Group One, the Physical Science Basis, the message is now: ‘Human Impact on Climate Change is unequivocal’. The time for action is now,” Prof Holland emphasised.
Protecting our Pacific in a Climate Emergency: A Climate and Ocean Assessment Project
Professor Holland emphasised that out of the Wilton Park Dialogue held by the UK and New Zealand following COP24 in Warsaw in preparation for COP 26, we have a new assessment by the Pacific for the Pacific: “Protecting our Pacific in a Climate Emergency: A Climate and Ocean Assessment Project”.
“We appreciate new funding from New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT) to ensure that we have the required holistic qualitative and quantitative understanding of the state of the Pacific better to inform our positions in the upcoming global stocktake. It is no longer sufficient for us to rely on the global perspective when our experience reminds us that ‘dangerous anthropogenic climate change is here, it is now, and it is here to stay,” she said.
“The Assessment will be led by academia, USP with the University of Canterbury together with our academic partners and researchers, the CROP agencies, Pacific governments, CSOs, communities and Pacific stakeholders all informed by Pacific research. Our steering collective includes University of Canterbury’s Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva and Professor Bronwyn Hayward, USP’s Lau Dr Viliamu Iese and Professor Joeli Veitayaki.”
The High-Level dialogue was attended by the COP 26 President, Rt. Hon Alok Sharma, UK COP 26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific, Ken O’Faherty, Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency Surangel S Whippy Jr, Minister of Economy (Fiji) Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister of Health and Human Services (RMI), Hon Bruce Bilimon, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment (Palau), Hon Steven Victor, heads of regional organisations, civil society organisations, private sector representatives, youth climate activists and media representatives at the Grand Pacific Hotel.