Climate Champion Bilimon says “there is an urgent need for measurable, firm targets to reduce emissions” as phasing coal down at COP26 was the biggest setback for RMI
The Pacific Political Champion for Climate Ambition Bruce Bilimon, has told the UK-Pacific Climate Dialogue this week the COP26 Glasgow Outcomes, especially in the final hours, were frustrating and tough.
The Marshall Islands Minister for Health was one of five Pacific High-Level Champions announced last year. He was amongst the four who were able to travel to Glasgow.
On Wednesday at the hybrid Dialogue between the COP 26 Presidency Alok Sharma and Pacific leaders, the Minister joined champions from Fiji and Palau to share their frank feedback and recommendations for the road to COP27.
The Minister noted that outcomes of COP26 “were mixed, as you might expect from such a complex and high-stakes process.”
He said Glasgow’s biggest setback was the “final-hour decision to water down the language on coal from phasing it out, to phasing it down. For countries like mine that are on a knife-edge, there is an urgent need for measurable, firm targets to reduce emissions. As stated by RMI during the last plenary of the COP26, we accepted that change with great reluctance, only because the other elements in the package represent a lifeline for the Marshallese people.”
Minister Bilimon voiced frustration on the Outcomes on Loss and Damage, “an issue critical for SIDS, and particularly for atoll nations. We are already experiencing loss and damage, and we can no longer delay making progress on this issue, however sensitive it may be.”
With many other invited voices in the UK-Pacific dialogue also pushing Loss and Damage as a priority, the Minister also joined the widespread call for celebrating the “significant wins for the ambition that were made in Glasgow. The fact that we agreed to accelerate the timeline for NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) enhancement is critical. Moving forward the moment of accountability to COP27 was vital, and a recognition of the absolute importance of halving emissions in this decade,” he told the audience of participants, put at the UK organisers at 100 in Suva, at the Grand Pacific Hotel venue, and another 100 or more online.
“I think it will be critical that we continue to focus on this deadline throughout the year, and that we ensure that the NDCs delivered in Sharm El Sheik get us on a track to a 1.5C future,” the Minister said.
He listed adaptation as a top priority for the Marshall Islands, “as a low-lying atoll, we have no higher ground to retreat to, and as the Health and Human Services Minister, I understand the absolutely vital necessity of preparation and planning to respond effectively and reduce the impact of crises. This is why we fought hard for an ambitious adaptation finance outcome at COP-26, and welcome the decision to double adaptation finance”
He urged the session to consider how the Pacific region is on the very frontline of this crisis, “and we cannot settle for anything less than the highest possible ambition. As a highly vulnerable country, AOSIS member, and convener of the High Ambition Coalition, we are committed to building on the progress made at COP26 in Sharm El Sheik later this year.”
He shared national actions approved by his government, following the COP26.
The changes include consideration of climate change legislation to give effect to the implementation of the Paris Agreement; a national policy to address loss and damage; a national approach to the design of the global goal on adaptation, and continued work within the Human Rights Council to support the selection of an ambitious and sympathetic Special Rapporteur on Climate Change. RMI leaders are also keen to continue working with youth at the local, national and international levels to progress ambitious climate action.
“I also want to recognise that the commitment to halt inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is a critical step towards rationalising our economies, and halting spending on the very thing that most threatens our future,” he added.
The Minister said even though the final text on coal was not what the Pacific had hoped for, “we can’t forget that this was the first COP outcome with a specific mention of coal.”
This story was written by Pita Ligaiula, originally published at PACNEWS on 24 February 2022.