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Joint statement of Small Island States and Least Developed Countries at Climate Week 2020

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Country (LDC) Group have issued a joint statement at Climate Week 2020, calling for ‘committed and inspiring leadership’ of COP26 and pledging their own continued resolve to promote climate ambition the world over.

25 September, 2020 – AOSIS and the LDC Group representatives met on 25 September on the margins of the first virtual climate week and high-level opening of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

High on the minds of representatives was the sobering reflection that in another 75 years many of their members may no longer hold seats at the United Nations if the world continues on its present course and average warming exceeds 1.5ºC.

The representatives reflected on the significance of 2020 as a defining moment for a meaningful pivot to more ambitious global climate action consistent with the Paris Agreement goals. They expressed unanimous concern that the decisions taken in response to the current pandemic could make or break the Paris Agreement especially if climate ambition is tempered or altogether abandoned. They agreed that by the time we arrive in Glasgow, we would have set the trajectory for action within the next decade – a timeframe that will determine the future survival and viability for many SIDS and LDCs.

The representatives stressed the following messages:

● The science tells us that limiting warming to below 1.5ºC remains feasible. What is needed is the political will to deliver climate ambition and action in line with 1.5ºC pathways.

● COVID 19 has exposed the deadly realities of life in the midst of multiple crises – warming oceans are fuelling stronger storms and contributing to widespread flooding; even as record drought and dry conditions spawn relentless wildfires and agricultural hardships across the planet. Life at 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming is proving to be dangerous and unbearable for the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be.

● AOSIS and the LDC Group do not accept that COVID 19 should produce a lag in momentum on climate action. We support the call by the Secretary-General for a green recovery to the pandemic and his six climate positive actions, and urge all countries to use climate actions as the basis for their pandemic recovery efforts.

● We do not have time to dally. We will not have a COP this year but what this means is that we must come to COP 26 already bolstered with strong climate actions and plans domestically to act in accordance with the science and make the agreements necessary to put us on track to stay within the 1.5ºC warming limit.

● Current and future generations are relying on governments of the world to ‘get it right’ in time for COP 26. None of us can afford another COP with low ambition outcomes, SIDS and LDCs least so. We applaud those major emitters who are taking up increased ambition on climate and reiterate the call for all G20 countries to adopt and announce more ambitious NDCs.

● COP 26 must be a delivery point on climate action and ambition, on all fronts, in order to secure the survival of the poorest and most vulnerable, and particularly on finance. We must see the delivery of the $100 billion per annum climate finance commitment by developed countries. Climate finance especially in light of the COVID 19 pandemic is particularly critical to SIDS and the LDCs, and we need concrete progress on access as well as on debt relief.

AOSIS and the LDC Group are therefore calling for the highest political engagement in the run up to and at COP 26. We expect countries to put their best foot forward with new and enhanced NDCs this year. We also expect countries to bring forward, this year, visionary long-term strategies for achieving low-carbon, climate resilient development by mid-century. This will be critical for making a monumental push for climate ambition and climate action to take centre stage in the discussions of global recovery.

Our message to the incoming UK Presidency is simple. COP 26 is the most important political moment for climate action since the Paris Agreement. Committed and inspired leadership is required to make it a success for people and planet. AOSIS and the LDC Group pledge their support in this task and invite leaders around the world to rise to meet this pivotal occasion.

Image: drought relief, Mozambique, courtesy IFRC

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