Road To COP27 : ‘We Must Deliver’

A central focus of the report will be how societies can adapt to the projected impacts of those higher temperatures.
28 Feb 2022 14:42
Road To COP27 : ‘We Must Deliver’
COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific, Ambassador Ken O’Flaherty. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

With the big United Nations climate science report set to be released on Monday, it will be another wake up call for the world.

It’s expected to lay bare the devastating impacts that delayed action and weak implementation of countries’ climate promises are having on people and nature, according to Dr Stephen Cornelius, WWF Global Lead for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A central focus of the report will be how societies can adapt to the projected impacts of those higher temperatures.

Thus, the Road to COP27: Pacific Dialogue with UK COP26 Presidency event on Wednesday was timely. It also sets the platform for the Pacific to strategise about engaging with Egypt’s COP27 Presidency, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The 200 plus participants from across the region heard from COP26 President, Alok Sharma, during the hybrid event which was also streamed live in the UK in the South Pacific Facebook page.

“The Pacific played a vital role in the success of Glasgow, both in the lead up to at the event itself, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) were absolutely crucial in pushing for ambition throughout the negotiation. So, a huge, huge thanks from me and the whole of the UK team for being by my side during some very challenging discussions that we have to have with many parties.”

On the ground working closely with governments, multilateral and civil society organisations is Ambassador Ken O’Flaherty, COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific.

We spoke to Ambassador O’Flaherty after Wednesday’s event:

Q: What has stood out for you working in the region?

A: My job is about engaging with governments but also business, civil society, and the media to galvanise climate action across the region.

I’ve been in the job for two years and so in the run up to Glasgow and now for the year of our presidency before COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh. The Pacific has been a particularly important partner for the UK as COP26 presidency.

I’ve been struck at how strong the climate crisis is felt by our Pacific partners. Pacific island states are uniquely challenged by climate change, they are dealing with the consequences of climate change today.

We see islands being eroded, in some cases atolls being washed away. And this gives the Pacific states a particularly strong moral voice internationally.

So as Presidency we were deter- mined to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target alive, and I think that requires major action by the big emitters worldwide to cut their emissions.

So, we have tried to work with our Pacific partners to make sure that their voices, calling for immediate action have been heard.

I think personally that voice was heard at Glasgow, I think the big emitters have heard the voice from the Pacific calling for urgent action ahead of Glasgow and at Glasgow, we saw major new commitments to net zero emissions by big economies worldwide.

We saw unprecedented moves away from coal away from fossil fuels towards renewables, but we need to see much more.

So that’s why as presidency we want to use this year to press partners internationally to implement what they agreed to do at Glasgow and to go further because we have made significant progress towards 1.5.

But we’re not there yet. And we need every country worldwide to play its part.

Q: We heard from leaders today about the need to take the ‘leap’, ‘implement’ and ‘deliver’ tangible climate actions. What would be your top three priorities?

A: Well, we need to see the big emitters translates their net zero commitments into practical action, as the country’s agreed to in Glasgow and that they would come to the COP27 at the end of this year with revised domestic plans showing how in the short term, they’re cutting emissions.

As presidency, we’re trying to help our partners worldwide through the energy transition, mobilizing investors, mobilizing donors – to help that transition from coal and fossil fuels towards renewables.

But Glasgow also agreed that it’s not enough to be cutting emissions, we have to help countries including the Pacific deal with the consequences of climate change today,

And we were really pleased to see international equipment to doubling the amount of international climate finance for adaptation.

And we will be holding them to that. The UK is of course trying to lead by example, and we have major new programmes on adaptation, which will also be applicable within this region.

And I would say the third lesson for me from Glasgow has been that it’s not enough for governments to be taking action on their own.

We have to see businesses forming part of the response to the climate crisis, and we have to have an all of society approach.

We tried to make sure COP26 was the most inclusive COP ever. We made sure that we were speaking with civil society, with youth groups with women’s groups with indigenous communities. And we think those voices for action can only spur further action on emissions as well.

Q: UK’s COP26 Presidency has been engaging with Pacific island countries, how can this be maintained to ensure that the voice of the Pacific is heard?

A: Well, for the UK, climate change is not just for COP26.

Climate change is going to be our top international priority for the coming decade.

We recently conducted an integrated review looking at our entire engagement nationally for the next decade. And climate change was identified as the most important issue for the UK.

So, this is a long-term investment. We’ve been investing in our diplomatic networks. We’ve increased our international climate finance; this is a long-term investment.

We recognise that this is an existential threat for the world.

So, our children our grandchildren will not forgive us if we do not take the action necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius today.

For the Pacific. We have been reinvigorating our engagement with the Pacific more widely, politically, economically, as well. But we know that climate change is probably the number one international priority for Pacific states. So, this will form a key part of our engagement for the coming decade as well.




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