HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 650: 23 January 2013

Cook Islands at UN Climate Change negotiations

The Cook Islands will be negotiating a vast range of climate change issues with over 190 parties at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar this month. The Cook Islands will unite with the Alliance of the Small Island States (AOSIS) at the climate conference to help carve a better future for the Pacific.
One of the key issues for the Cook Islands is Loss and Damage. This is important for the Pacific as it is looking at three key components to be funded by developed countries to provide assistance for loss and damage caused by climate change. These components are; insurance, rehabilitation and risk management
Examples of loss and damage caused cover a range of impacts such as the unavoidable loss of sea level rise eroding coastal beaches used by the tourism sector and climate related damage and loss of infrastructure.
“We must note that negotiating on an international basis takes time, you learn to magnify the small triumphs at these meetings as any small step will have a huge impact in the long run. There are over 190 countries and governments that are coming to an agreement and as we have learnt, it takes years to find common ground but we must continue to persevere,” said Myra Patai, Head of the Cook Islands delegation to UNFCCC COP 18
Climate change financing is an important concern for the Pacific as parties to the UN framework to the convention on climate change strive to ensure that any climate finances are fairly allocated between adaptation and mitigation. The Cook Islands is also advocating for direct financial support using our national systems and procedures.
“Science has proven that climate change is happening. The most vulnerable to the impacts are the small islands like the Cook Islands. We must have our say in the decision making to ensure that any financial support will help us cope and address the impacts in the ways that best suit our small islands. Here at these negotiations is the best time to add our voice to the negotiations,” said Patai
Other issues at the forefront of the Cook Islands agenda at the UNFCCC COP 18 include Climate Change Adaptation; the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhance Action which is a new agenda item to develop a new legal Protocol under the Convention and; the issue of Bunker fuels and how to address the greenhouse gases they emit.
The Cook Islands delegation consists of Myra Patai head of delegation, Ana Tiraa, Mii Matamaki, Peter Taivairanga, Diane McFadzien, Nanette Woonton, Ewan Cameron and Linda Siegele. All are funded to attend by the UNFCCC Secretariat or have other funding to support their attendance. As there are different meetings on the different agenda issues taking place simultaneously, it is an advantage to have a delegation of a reasonable size as the numbers will allow for tracking the many issues properly.
This is the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. The Conference will kick off on 26 November and will run until 7 December, 2012.
To stay informed with Cook Islands and Pacific activities at this meeting please visit www.climatepasifika.blogspot.com
Understanding the United Nations Framework on the Convention of Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP):
The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on the Convention to Climate Change meets annually and this year is the 18th meeting. There are also a number of meetings which take place during the year these are gatherings of different technical bodies which help prepare recommendations and text to be considered during UNFCCC COP which lasts two weeks at the end of each year.
The actual Conference of the Parties is like a web. There are different threads in the agenda that are negotiated and discussed at the same time. Some of the negotiating threads cover a diverse range of issues including Adaptation to climate change, Climate Finance, Mitigating climate change, Education, Training and Public Awareness, and Legal Issues. This means a number of different meetings at the one time over the two weeks, but they all come back together in the one main plenary on the last day of the Conference to discuss the outcomes of all the different meetings.
Alongside the negotiations of the different agenda threads are several key events that happen on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP. This is the opportunity for stakeholders in climate change ranging from businesses, to NGO’s to youth; to come together and meet, this is when you see protests being staged or a number of side events and exhibits.
This year the Cook Islands will have the opportunity to feature national climate change materials at a Pacific booth to showcase events and during a Pacific side event which will take place in the first week of the negotiations.
The other key event is the High Level Segment of the COP which allows for Heads of State to make speeches that will be noted by the UNFCCC.
Understanding AOSIS:
There is strength in numbers at the Climate negotiations, the Cook Islands is one of the 44 low lying and small island countries from Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea, that make up the AOSIS coalition. Nauru is the current Chair of AOSIS, taking on the role after Grenada at the beginning of this year.
For more information please visit www.unfccc.int

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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