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Every Degree Brings New Levels Of Climate Extremes, Suffering, Vanuatu Reminds COP26

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11 November 2021, COP26, Glasgow - Vanuatu has called on world leaders and negotiators at COP26 to prioritise “action over politics, resilience over economic gain, and justice over inequality.”

The point was made by Ambassador H.E Antas Sumbue, of Vanuatu’s Embassy in Switzerland, when he addressed the High-Level Segment in Glasgow, Scotland, adding Vanuatu’s voice to an amplified call from the Pacific for urgent climate action.

Vanuatu has had a long standing placing in the top 10 most-at risk countries in the world, to disasters as documented in the WorldRisk Reports. In 2021, Vanuatu was labelled as the most exposed to disasters, a profile that is also determined by sea level rise. One of the nation’s top priorities is to see a standalone Loss & Damage Finance Facility to address the annual levels of catastrophic loss and damage from climate extremes and slow on-set events.

“Every year, and every degree brings the Pacific Islands new levels of climate extremes and climate suffering. We need to heed the science. Human-caused climate change is undermining Vanuatu’s right to sustainable development, and global efforts to protect planetary biodiversity and the future of our oceans,” said Ambassador Sumbue.

Like all the Pacific countries who have already addressed the conference, Vanuatu’s story of suffering as a result of climate change was no different. H.E. Sumbue told of the onslaught of the climate crisis devastating Vanuatu, “taking with it our livelihoods, our natural resources, territorial integrity, our cultural identities, our human rights, and even our lives.”

“The recent IPCC Special Report has highlighted that the world is moving towards a rise in temperature of 3 degree Celsius and that Vanuatu as a small island developing State, will continue to face natural disasters, sea level rise, droughts and ocean acidification. Therefore, as a small island nation, climate change remains the greatest threat to achieving our sustainable development goals,” he said.

“Even though we are not a major contributor of greenhouse gases, we are committed to working with the international community to redouble our efforts to reduce the rise in global temperatures, so that, by 2030, 100 per cent of our electricity will be generated by renewable and sustainable energy. This effort is part of our nationally determined contributions.”

On that note, Vanuatu urged the COP 26 parties to have new and updated NDCs that represent the highest possible ambition.

“We would like to see the highest levels of pressure applied to parties who have not yet brought their NDCs in-line with 1.5-degree pathways. We urge parties to reach a consensus in the discussions for common time frames of the NDC,” the High-Level Segment was told.

Vanuatu also called attention to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

“Increasing ambition on Article 6 will support the implementation and achievement of targets specified in NDCs. Vanuatu’s NDC reflects our firm commitment, aiming to deliver the Paris Agreement ambitions, despite having ambitious 2030 targets. This is achievable only through technical and financial support. Vanuatu however, perceived last week’s negotiations deviate away from the Paris Agreement mandate on Article 6 matters,” Ambassador Sumbue said.

“Therefore, I expect you to push for rapid decarbonisation by 2030, starting with the eradication of fossil fuel subsidies and agreement on no new coal, oil or gas projects, in alignment with low emission development strategies and net zero emissions by 2050.”

Climate finance to support climate adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage was also a concern for Vanuatu, with the Pacific nation calling on the meeting to hold parties responsible for meeting the USD 100 billion per year commitment they made in 2009.

“Loss and Damage is here and now, and the UNFCCC mechanisms are not delivering. I want you to push for a fully operational Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, one that serves as a technical for us when we need it most.”

The Santiago Network aims to catalyse the technical assistance of relevant organisations, bodies, networks and experts, for the implementation of relevant approaches for averting, minimise and addressing loss and damage. As UNFCCC processes continue to under-deliver, Vanuatu has announced its intention to seek an Advisory Opinion on Climate Change from the International Court of Justice.

“Adaptation is the top climate priority for Vanuatu. I request for more support to mainstream, integrate and implement National Adaptation Planning processes, and start a robust process that will capture Vanuatu’s progress on adaptation in the Global Stocktake and as part of a new Global Adaptation Goal,” the Ambassador emphasised.

“Vanuatu request for stronger language on the Finance Function of the Santiago Network. We prefer language that requests potential SNLD hosts to make Submissions early next year so we can actually start responding to requests of the most vulnerable as soon as possible.”

Vanuatu also reiterated that science must be the ultimate basis for the work at COP26 and in every effort to address the climate crisis.

“Science confirms record rates of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and a terrifying approach towards the 1.5 °C global heating limit. For 29 years, Vanuatu has participated in the multilateral climate negotiations with good faith, ambition and hope that nations would be able to work together to address the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and well-being of all people on this planet,” said Ambassador Sumbue.

“We stand in solidarity with all of those who have suffered, like us, the excruciating pain of this climate crisis.”

Vanuatu presented during the resumption of the High-Level segment at COP26. The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties is held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November, 2021.

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