As several countries negotiating under the G77 + China bloc continue to push against key topics for climate justice like the inclusion of human rights and an ambitious long term goal in the Paris Agreement, the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s (CVF) lead seems the only way to break the current stalemate at the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris.
A coalition of the world’s most vulnerable countries, the CVF kick-started the summit by announcing that they would upscale their domestic ambition and support the inclusion of a 1.5 degree goal and 100% decarbonization by 2050 in hopes of triggering greater ambition in Paris.
Their lead will be crucial during the last week of the UN climate talks as several oil-rich nations and major developing economies from the G77 + China group undermine progress towards a more ambitious agreement, aided by the reluctance of developed countries to push for higher ambition.
Rather than replicating the positions of the G77 + China –which groups the developing world with over 130 countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Pacific– the Climate Vulnerable Forum wishes to lead by example, something that will come in handy as the talks move into the second week.
“We’re all bona fide strong members of the G77 + China and CVF parties are also members of other negotiating groups as well”, said Tony La Viña, the Philippines’ head negotiator. “But when people communicate with each other and brainstorm, they can find solutions together.”
“It’s a leadership group, not a negotiating group”, he concluded. The Philippines recently left the Like-Minded Developing Country group, a traditionally conservative bloc.
The Philippines presided the CVF during 2015 and have handed the chairmanship to Ethiopia, who will lead next year. The Forum comprises 43 of the world’s most vulnerable nations.
The coalition is made up of middle income, least developed and small island developing states across the world. It opened the prospect of high ambition agreements at COP21 with strong calls to increase national climate action and set a target of $20 billion new investment in climate action by 2020.
Why is this relevant now? Because after a week of slow-paced negotiations, their leadership is much needed, especially within the G77.
During the third day of the talks, as countries debated over the long term goal of the agreement and developing countries advocated for changing this target to 1.5 degrees, a Saudi Arabian official objected to the debate, saying: “I don’t think there is any scientific finding supporting 1.5C”.
A similar stand-off happened later in the week when Saudi Arabia and India blocked a UN report that said the 1.5 degree limit global warming above pre-industrial levels was preferable to the 2 degrees. The discussion was held in a parallel body called SBSTA, which advises delegates on Science and Technology.
“My technical officers came back distraught – it seems Saudi Arabia and India were against a sea swell of opinion that very much wanted 1.5C included in the discussion”, CVF member James Fletcher, St Lucia’s minister for sustainable development, energy, science and technology, told Climate Home.
Earlier this week, Nicaragua became the first country openly refusing to submit a climate pledge, also known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), framing the whole process to be a failure.
“This Forum is reinventing solidarity because they want to support each other and be stronger together” said Nivela’s Executive Director Mónica Araya. “They are here to lead by example and to remind all countries all can do more.”
As negotiations move into the second week with a political high-level segment looming ahead, delegates need strong voices in the negotiating rooms to keep the talks from wandering away from their true purpose: the protection of humanity through a cap on the increase of global temperature.
The CVF countries can play a leading role in building a fair agreement, which ensures people from all over the world are safe from climate change.
“For them, having a good agreement that keeps the door open to 1.5 degrees is crucial; which countries, developed or developing, have the right to take that option away from them and why?”, concluded Araya.
Will anyone listen?