This is about our people back home, our vulnerable communities, Vanuatu at COP28

Source: SPREP

9 November 2023, Dubai UAE – Vanuatu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change and disasters.

This year alone, the Pacific nation has been hit by two Category 4 cyclones in the space of a few days apart. As if that’s not bad enough, it was recently smashed by a Category 5 cyclone which devastated the island, destroying large swathes of land and property.

At COP28 in Dubai UAE, the Minister responsible for Climate Change for Vanuatu, Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, told world leaders in attendance that the climate crisis poses an existential threat to his country’s environment, sustainable development and their very lives.

“We have come here with high hopes that this multilateral process and the host of this COP28 can deliver robust and effective outcomes that we can bring back home,” he said. “To achieve a strong decision, we urge Parties to strengthen 2030 targets in revised current nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by early next year, that align with a pathway to 1.5oC, and which peak global emissions by 2025 at the latest.”

Hon. Regenvanu was speaking during the resumed High Level Plenary of COP28 on Saturday as climate change negotiations pick up pace with negotiators, including many from Pacific countries, pushing for an outcome text. Negotiators are aiming to agree on how to bolster emissions-cutting targets set by the Paris Agreement and what to do about the future of fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.

According to Hon. Regenvanu, setting a target for tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 would be a useful and complementary outcome at COP28.

“Critically, however, a renewables and energy efficiency target cannot be a substitute for a stronger commitment to fossil-fuel phase-out.  For COP28 to be a success, it needs to deliver both on fossil fuel phase out, renewables and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.  The science tells us that these commitments are crucial to meeting a 1.5 aligned pathway,” he said.

As the Pacific’s Political Champion for Loss and Damage, Hon. Regenvanu said this is one of the Pacific’s priorities.

“”We acknowledge the pledges from countries towards the loss and damage fund including the solid decision to operationalize the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage.  In addition, we urge that this loss and damage fund must also address our special circumstances, he said.

On adaptation, Minister Regenvanu said countries like Vanuatu has reached hard limits in its adaptation capacities.

“By the end of this COP, we would like to see a robust and effective Global Goal on Adaptation Framework outcome with consideration of our specific needs and special circumstances factored in and aligned to strengthen our resilience and enhance sustainable development,” he said.

“For instance, we need to invest in resilient public infrastructure to enable the resettlement of our populations to ensure the safety of our citizens, particularly in and around urban areas, and need to build the capacity of our city and local governments to undertake effective spatial planning, housing and urban development on our land and ocean, to capture multilevel climate action as a way forward for the future implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

As a vulnerable country, climate finance is another key priority for Vanuatu.

“We have seen and heard some progress made in the negotiations rooms and pledges made – however, the critical issue remains, and that is access to finance at the current demand scale which must be urgently addressed, including finalisation of an inclusive definition of finance to pave way for the New Collective Quantified Goal next year, to deliver predictable, flexible finance at a scale that meets our needs,” he said. “We continue to call for finance to support us implement our enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), which will support us to address the impacts of climate change in our country.”

Vanuatu and Pacific countries have also prioritised the outcome of the Global Stocktake (GST) at COP28, where critical negotiations continue.

“We call for a robust GST decision, one that guides and commits actions by parties to reduce emissions by phasing out fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies and scaling up renewable energy with sufficient finance, technology and capacity building support.

“To close, we do this not for ourselves, but for our people back home, our vulnerable communities, our SIDS family, and for the next generations and for our planet!”

Source: SPREP