Working collectively with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), the key issues for the Cook Islands include topics such as loss and damage and climate finance as well as the Special 1.5 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Released in October this year, the report highlights the impacts of global warming limited to 1.5ºC rather than 2ºC.
The AOSIS is now working to ensure that all decisions negotiated at the climate change conference considers these impacts upon the Cook Islands, as a part of all Small Islands Developing States and the planet as a whole.
“It may only be a .5 degree difference but the effect of this upon our way of life as we know it, is significant,” said Climate Change Cook Islands director, Wayne King,
“We, as a nation, have committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, such as through our commitment to achieving 100 per cent renewable energy sources for generating electricity by 2020. This IPCC Special Report shows us that if the global community works together for ambitious emission reduction targets, we can reach 1.5ºC.”
The effects of a warmer world will impact upon the Cook Islands environment and its people. The science shows that at 1.5°C, some coral reefs will be able to adapt, while at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none. This is of significant concern given the role of coral reefs as a food resource basket, as well as for protection of the foreshore. Coral reefs dissipate 97 per cent of the wave energy that would otherwise impact shorelines.
The Cook Islands delegation at the conference consists of prime minister Henry Puna, Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Ben Ponia, King, Rima Moeka’a, Talissa Koteka, Piakura Passfield, Nanette Woonton, Audrey Brown-Pereira, and Linda Siegele.
The roles of delegation members at COP24, range from following the different negotiation threads, such as climate finance, to participating in high level events and discussions with development partners.
“The Ocean Pathway is also important for us given our situation as an oceanic nation with widely spaced inhabited islands over an economic exclusive zone of around 2 million square kilometres, all of which is now under an integrated ocean management strategy called Marae Moana, said King.
“We are empowered to protect our oceans from the effects of climate change and this is just one global process that can lead to positive outcomes trickling down to our oceans.
“Many of us rely upon our ocean for our livelihoods and sustenance. There is a strong connection between our ocean and our way of life in the Cook Islands, and we want to ensure we do all we can to save it from climate change impacts such as ocean acidification.”
During the two-week conference the Cook Islands will also participate on the sidelines of the negotiations in the numerous side events featuring climate actions undertaken, and through different meetings with partners and institutions.
The UNFCCC COP24 is held in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December, 2018. The Cook Islands delegation is funded through different funding sources including that of the UNFCCC Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Womens Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) as well as self-funded participation.