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Least Developed Countries set bar for ambitious climate action

Date: 20 October 2014

Following the bold pledges made by leaders of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the UN Climate Summit in September, the LDC Group expects others to scale up ambition and leadership on climate change in line with, or more strongly than the LDCs.

The Chair of the LDCs Group at UN climate change negotiations, Mr. Prakash Mathema of Nepal, and other representatives of the forty-eight poorest and most vulnerable countries of the world have arrived in Bonn for the UN climate change talks, to build on this momentum. The Group’s objective is to ensure that global response addresses the needs of their countries’ populations, who are the hardest hit by adverse effects of climate change.

Mathema said: “Last month’s Climate Summit, convened by the UN Secretary General in New York, injected new energy into the global climate change decision-making process. We not only saw more than hundred heads of state or government come together to discuss climate change, but also over three hundred thousand people around the world showing that they are paying close attention to this process and demanding concrete climate action from their governments.”

However, the negotiation process is running out of time and the progress made at this week’s climate change talks in Bonn will be crucial to the successful outcome needed at this December’s Conference of the Parties (COP20) to be held in Lima, Peru.

“The number of negotiation days before the end of 2015 when a new, universal and legally-binding agreement on climate change is to be adopted in Paris, is quickly dwindling, and missing the deadline is not an option,” said Mathema.

At COP20 the elements of the future agreement will be on the negotiating table. Substantial progress must therefore be made in the short time leading up to this milestone, to ensure that an ambitious and fair outcome for all can be reached in Paris.

Mathema explained: “A critical element of the negotiations in this period relates to what each country will contribute to the Agreement. As those historically responsible for climate change, industrialised countries, must lead the way by demonstrating a high level of ambition on action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to support adaptation in developing countries.”

“The urgency for an effective response to the global climate change threat further demands that developed countries, as well as all other countries able to do so, take action to limit global average temperature increase to below 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. They must also provide due support to vulnerable countries to cope with the unavoidable impacts of climate change and residual loss and damages, without further delay”.

Twenty LDCs voluntarily made pledges to take climate action in New York last September. For example, Ethiopia pledged to have zero net emissions by 2025, and Tuvalu announced the country would employ 100% renewable energy in electricity supply by 2020.

Dr. Ian Fry, Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment from Tuvalu, said: “The Climate Summit demonstrated yet again the importance LDCs place on climate action. We expect leadership, ambition, and concrete results from all major emitters, at a level high enough where the survival of not even a single nation, population, or ecosystem is compromised.”

In addition to calling on industrialised nations to rapidly step up their commitment to tackling climate change, the Group says that scaling up action to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in the 2015-2020 period before the new Agreement is to be implemented is also a priority.

Mathema added: “The LDCs are concerned that there is a serious lack of enthusiasm to increase short-term mitigation ambition. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that emission reduction pledges for the pre-2020 period are not consistent with a pathway that will limit temperature change to 2oC relative to pre-industrial levels (and far from 1.5oC objective called for by the LDCs). Yet closing the ambition gap is a pre-requisite for the new Agreement to effectively limit global average temperature increase to a safe level. By the end of this year, we expect Parties to agree on a robust work plan to take forward in 2015.”

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