Press Conference on Small Island Developing States’ Position Ahead of Durban Climate Change Conference

23 November 2011

Press Conference on Small Island Developing States’ Position Ahead of Durban Climate Change Conference

23 November 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Small Island Developing States’ Position Ahead

of Durban Climate Change Conference


Evidence confirmed that the window of climate safety was closing and ambitious actions must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2015, Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said at a Headquarters press conference today.

The window must not be allowed to close, and nations must act strongly to reduce emissions before it was too late, Ms. Williams said ahead of the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December.  On the eve of another “momentous” Conference of the Parties, AOSIS members had been participating in related events all year since the Cancun Climate Change Conference of December 2010, she said, adding that wherever ambitious dialogue for climate change mitigation had been held, the Alliance had been there.

She said other actions leading up to Durban included the launch of “SIDS [small island developing States] DOCK”, an initiative of the Alliance designed as a “docking station” to connect small-island energy sectors with the global market for finance and sustainable energy technologies, as well as with European Union and United States carbon markets.

Ms. Williams recalled that AOSIS had been bombarded this year by a series of scientific reports indicating that 2010 had seen more greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere than ever before.  While many studies showed the need to reduce emissions, they had actually been increasing instead, a situation of mounting emergency for small island developing States, which were already experiencing the unprecedented wrath of climate change in the form of hurricanes and cyclones of increasing scale and duration.  Small islands were also experiencing a loss of revenue due to the bleaching of coral reefs, the destruction of coastal properties, the loss of agriculture, and humanitarian consequences such as drought, she added.

The Alliance was calling for the renewal of the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Change Conference, as a fundamental pillar of what must emerge from Durban, she continued.  It was also calling for a legally-binding instrument that would allow all Member States not party to Kyoto to take legally and internationally credible actions, she added.

Responding to questions, she emphasized the need to be ambitious going into Durban, noting that AOSIS had heard “noise” from the media about what could or could not happen.  The Alliance was going into the negotiations with high ambitions, excellent preparations, and the commitment to find partners to deliver what the world needed, she said, adding that it could and would not be the “bearer of doom and gloom”.

Asked about doubts expressed by some “big economies” that a second Kyoto commitment period could be finalized, she said such an outcome would be quite disappointing and would tangibly hurt economies and societies.  It was clear that the world would not be able to meet the 2° C target unless it began to reduce emissions before 2015, she said, adding that there was no scientific, logical, or research-related reason for not taking on a commitment before that year.

Questioned as to how she would define success in Durban, she said it was not helpful to begin to “lower the bar” by saying what could or could not be done.  For the sake of a robust and healthy multilateralism, stakeholders should go in with high expectations, and that was what the Alliance was doing, she added.

Asked what “industrialized” countries in the Caribbean region — such as Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela — could do to “make things better”, Ms. Williams underscored that the climate was warming too rapidly and the human community as a whole must take urgent action to reduce emissions, particularly through relevant legal instruments.  In Durban, the first moral, practical, financial and humanitarian action of the negotiations would be to find ways to achieve that goal, she said.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.