08. December 2021

How ambition for a small country’s survival helped reshape the COP agenda


It may have been exhaustion etched into the face of Marshall Island local weather envoy Tina Stege, as she spoke with media midway by way of day 9 of the United Nations local weather talks.

It may simply as simply have been worry.

The Marshall Islands is an unlikely powerhouse at the COP for its function in founding a grouping referred to as the High Ambition Coalition, a voting bloc of countries that appeared all of a sudden and dramatically at the Paris local weather talks.

A matter of survival. High water hits the Marshall Islands.

A matter of survival. High water hits the Marshall Islands.Credit:Benedict D. Yamamura

The Marshall Islands elder statesman Tony DeBrum, who has since died, managed to craft a coalition that spanned the globe, together with small climate-vulnerable nations, then a lot of Europe and ultimately the United States.

The HAC, as its identified, is accountable for altering the language of the Paris Agreement to make its objective to carry international warming to “well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels”.

Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, speaks at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Tina Stege, local weather envoy for the Marshall Islands, speaks at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit:Getty

DeBrum started to construct the coalition when it grew to become clear to him that above 1.5 levels, his nation would stop to exist. Today, says Wesley Morgan, a Pacific specialist with the Climate Council, the coalition carries not solely ethical authority however political heft as a bloc that unites developed and creating nations which have historically not acted in live performance.

It is working to make the 1.5 diploma objective it compelled into the Paris Accord the Glasgow doc’s central focus, with the assist of the present COP presidency which has made “keep 1.5 alive” a slogan of the talks, echoing DeBrum’s personal “1.5 to stay alive”.

Stege took to a press convention stage on Tuesday to handle a new evaluation by Climate Action Tracker that given all the commitments thus far made at COP26, the world stays on observe for between 2.4 levels, if governments ship on their guarantees, and a couple of.7 in the event that they proceed with their present insurance policies.

“So what does this all mean?” stated Stege. “It means we have to focus on increasing the 2030 mitigation ambition. 2030 is the cliff edge, certainly for my country, a small island developing state, but really for the world.”

Asked what failure may imply, she paused after which responded slowly, rigorously.


“As the Marshall Islands [envoy], I can’t accept that failure. Failure is accepting that perhaps there isn’t a future for my country. It’s not acceptable. Therefore, we will continue to work to make sure that this COP puts in place what needs to be there to keep the door open for 1.5.”

For Stege and different members of the coalition, this implies not solely making certain that 1.5 levels stays the focus, however lobbying for a remaining Glasgow assertion to incorporate language that may direct nations to undertake 2030 targets that put them on a sensible trajectory to web zero by 2050.

It would additionally imply lobbying to set objectives in keeping with 1.5, and to name on these, similar to Australia, that haven’t improved on their 2030 targets to return to the situation subsequent 12 months.

At COP yesterday, a contingent of Democratic Party bigwigs together with House speaker Nancy Pelosi and left-wing congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived to strengthen the message already delivered by Joe Biden, Barack Obama and John Kerry that the United States was again main the battle in opposition to local weather.

This ought to have been excellent news for the coalition, or a minimum of higher information. The US has once more declared its assist, nevertheless it has not been express that it helps all of the coalition’s positions.


And the solely motive the Biden administration has needed to ship such a massive contingent of its rockstar proxies is as a result of it’s conscious that its authority on local weather is diminished.

It is battered not simply by Donald Trump’s abandonment of the Paris course of, however by the problem Biden confronts in passing his personal local weather payments, to not point out the chance that the occasion Trump nonetheless dominates may quickly win mid-term elections and even retake the White House.

In which case the failure Stege so moderately fears will turn into way more doubtless.

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