COP27: Global climate ambition “clearly not enough,” says Cook Islands

COP27, Sharm-El-Sheik, EGYPT 8th November 2022— The incoming Forum Chair, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has echoed the ‘grave concerns’ shared by other small islands states at the findings in the latest UNFCC report on National Determined Contributions, or NDCs. Global temperatures are tipped to exceed 2.7 degrees global warming.

“This is based on the pledges that countries have made – this is the extent of our current global climate ambition.,” PM Brown told the COP27 plenary on November 8th, “It is clearly not enough.”

“Even more concerning is the recent IPCC report, with the science telling us that if global emissions do not peak before 2025, if our current 2.7-degree NDC pledges are not implemented, and that if we stay the course of the current emissions trajectory, we will face a world with a median global warming of 3.2 degrees by 2100. The change is happening already, it is incremental, it is insidious, and it is now becoming inevitable,” he added.

Next year, the Cook Islands will host the Pacific’s premier political forum, bringing together the Leaders of the Pacific nations to discuss regional priorities. Climate change will be at the forefront of these discussions, said the Prime Minister, “and we will advocate for tangible, fit-for-Pacific solutions to address the climate threat our Blue Pacific Continent faces. Each of us in the Pacific, individually and collectively, will do what we can to safeguard our futures”.

He said for small island states such as the Cook Islands, a nation of 15 islands spread across more than 2 million square km of ocean, “we cannot underscore how grave the threat we are currently facing is.”

He recalled how world leaders came together in Glasgow and agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, a commitment to keeping the 1.5-degree goal alive, and a course of action to do so.

“We emphasised that we needed to urgently raise ambition, and that without concerted and rapid mitigation efforts, this goal would slip further and further from our reach,” said the Cook Islands leader, who is also a Pacific High-Level Champion on Climate Finance and Oceans.

At the national level, the Cook Islands has converted 13 of its 15 islands to solar energy and set a target of 2025 for the remaining two. The Cook Islands has also committed to net zero emissions by 2040, with a focus on projects linking well-being and climate change, resilient infrastructure, and enhanced direct financing to communities for adaptation. The release of adaptation funding for our countries needs to be accelerated.

“As a collective, our Pacific region contributes less than 0.03 percent to global emissions. Our emissions are the equivalent of a burning matchstick in a forest fire. While we are doing our bit on mitigation efforts and reducing our emissions, there is only so much impact our national and regional actions can have. It is up to the G20 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions that we are beholden to for our survival. Our survival is being held to ransom at the cost of profit and an unwillingness to act, despite the ability to do so,” said the Prime Minister.

PM Brown called for urgent scale up of global mitigation ambition and an agreed work programme “that veers us from our current emissions trajectory, and which keeps the spirit of the Paris Agreement alive–we urgently need developed countries to deliver on their climate finance commitments, and for that finance to respond to the loss and damage that is already happening in climate vulnerable countries, and that will continue to occur in the face of the projected 3.2 degree temperature rise.”

“We must agree to a plan for operationalising the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, to allow SIDS and other countries particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change to begin receiving the assistance required to address loss and damage.”

Noting COP 27 as the COP of implementation, “the time for action is now, he said. “We cannot afford to be complacent while homes are being destroyed, people are being displaced, and lives are being lost. The effects of climate change are already eroding the land that my people stand on. We must act now, before it is too late”.

The national statements from Pacific and other world leaders will continue alongside hundreds of side events and UNFCC sessions until the closing plenary, scheduled for November 18–ENDS

Full statement at CIGOV MFAI