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Leading the Way: Raising Ambition for 1.5°C Compatible Climate Ambition

Date: 25 September 2020

Online from Thimphu, Bhutan: AOSIS and 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 1.5°C.

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 1.5°C remains feasible. What is needed is the political will to deliver climate ambition and action in line with 1.5°C 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°C 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 COP26 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 1.5°C warming limit.
  • Current and future generations are relying on governments of the world to ‘get it right’ in time for COP26. 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 USD 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 COP26. 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. COP26 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.

Outcome statement for AOSIS-LDC event (PDF).


Information about the hosts:

The Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group has a membership of 47 low-income countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean. These countries are confronted with severe structural impediments to sustainable development, have low levels of human assets and are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks. The Group is chaired by Bhutan at the climate change negotiations.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is a coalition of 44 small island and low-lying coastal developing states, including five observers. As a voice for the vulnerable, its mandate goes beyond amplifying marginalized voices, as it also advocates for these countries’ interests. The Group is currently chaired by Belize.

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