Climate Change

The main MEAs and implementation strategies for the Pacific Region on Climate Change can be found below: 

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992

The Convention
 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as one of three Conventions open to signature at the Rio Summit, has been adopted in 1992.  It entered into force in 1994 and has 195 Parties, including the 14 Pacific Countries.

The Convention is a framework agreement which sets general objectives for the international community of reduction of the anthropogenic footprint on climate.. It is a legally binding agreement that sets broad objectives and goals instead of specific obligations. For this reason the adoption of Protocols, which sets specific duties for the Parties, is needful in order to permit the implementation of the Convention.
The ultimate objective of the Convention can be found in Article 2:
stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”.

Under the Convention, all Parties have an obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and also address climate change through mitigation (actions to reduce emissions), adaptation (addressing the impacts), education training and public awareness, and research and systematic observation.

All Parties to the Convention must report on their greenhouse gases (through a greenhouse gas inventory) as actions they have taken to address climate change.  This is done through a document referred to as the National Communications. 
Developed Parties must submit a national communications every 3 years, and developing countries (including the Pacific) must submit every 4 years. Developing countries are provided with funding and resources to produce these national communications through the Global Environment Facility. Additionally, all countries are now asked to provide biennial updates of their GHG inventories.

To view National Communications submitted by PICs, click here. 

Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, 1997

The Kyoto Protocol is the agreement for the implementation of the UNFCCC.
While the Climate Change Convention sets out what countries must do (ie agree to take measures to address climate change), the
 Kyoto Protocol sets out the details of the commitments (how, who and by when). The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in 2004 and sets specific reduction targets for the period 2008-2008 (First Period Commitment).
The countries called to reduce their GHG are the developed countries (referred to in Annex I). The developing countries or Non-Annex I countries (Pacific Island Countries included) have not legal obligations to take on specific reduction targets.
In order to facilitate developing countries to fulfill with the agreement, the KP also provides what are known as ‘flexible mechanisms’: emissions trading, joint implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism.
For more information on the KP, click

Pacific Implementation of the Convention and Protocol

Pacific Island Countries:

Pacific Island Counties do not have any legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. They can instead benefit through participation in the Clean Development Mechanism.  This is where a developed country who is a Party to the Kyoto Protocol can undertake emissions reductions project in a developing country.  The developed country gains the benefit of credits for the emissions reduced, and the developing country benefits through having the project (for example, a renewable energy, or energy efficiency project) in their country, which is supposed to help them meet their sustainable development needs.

Pacific threats from CC:
Climate change has been identifies by the IPCC as one of the more likely affected area by CC.
The climate regime shift has already disproportionally affected the islands of the Pacific. Although islanders have done little to contribute to the cause – less than 0.03% of current global greenhousegas emissions – they are among the first to be affected. Most islands are experiencing climate change impacts on communities, infrastructure, water supply, coastal and forest ecosystems, fisheries, agriculture, and human health. The consequences of sea level rise, sea temperature increases, ocean acidification, altered rainfall patterns, and overall temperature rise will be increasingly felt. SPREP has been designated by Pacific heads of government as the lead agency to coordinate the region's response to this challenge.
For more information: IPCC or here.

Regional Plans and Strategies
In order to address climate Change, reduce the forcing that entail shifts in the climate regime, and limit the vulnerability of PICs, several actions have been taken in the Pacific region.

a) Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change 2006-2015 (PIFACC)
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) meeting of 2005, and consequently, the Pacific Forum Leaders meeting of the same year endorsed the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC).
Pacific Leaders tasked SPREP with the coordination of regional activities in support of national initiatives, and monitoring and promotion of the regional policy.
The main objective for the PICs is:
"By 2015, all Members will have strengthened capacity to respond to climate change through policy improvement, implementation of practical adaptation measures, enhancing ecosystem resilience to the impacts of climate change, and implementing initiatives aimed at achieving low-carbon development."

b) Alliance of Small Island States (AOASIS)
In order to bring to the attention of the International Community the threats that the countries are facing, the PICs are taking part to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). This latter is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development challenges and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. It functions primarily as an ad hoc lobby and negotiating voice for small island developing States (SIDS) within the United Nations system.

National Plans and Strategies

In order to implement the Convention and to participate to the global process of mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, the pacific countries are elaborating periodically national plans and strategies.

a) National Communications
Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention. Each non-Annex I Party shall submit its initial communication within three years of the entry into force of the Convention for that Party. Further, the  Conference of the Parties (COP), at its seventeenth session, decided that non-Annex I Parties, consistent with their capabilities and the level of support provided for reporting, should submit their first biennial update report by December 2014; the least developed country (LDCs) Parties and small island developing States (SIDS) may submit biennial update reports at their discretion.
For the UNFCCC biennial update reporting guidelines:


b) National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPA’s)
The NAPAs are born in order to implement Article 4.9 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which recognizes the special situation of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the decision 2/CP.7:

Article 4.9
The Parties shall take full account of the specific needs and special situations of the Least Developed Countries in their actions with regard to funding and transfer of technology"

Decision 2/CP.7
"The Least Developed Countries, and Small Islands Developing States amongst them, are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather events and the adverse effects of climate change. They also have the least capacity to cope with and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. The following is the initial assessment of needs and priority areas for capacity building in these countries" 

The ratio of NAPA's is to focus on urgent and immediate needs of LDC's - those for which further delay could increase vulnerability or lead to increased costs at a later stage. NAPAs are designed to use existing information; and no new research is needed. They must be action-oriented and country-driven and be flexible and based on national circumstances.
In the pacific there are five LDC's who qualify for NAPA funding and support in the Pacific: Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu .All five of these countries have now submitted NAPAs and are now in the process of implementing those priority needs identified through the NAPA process.

For information about:
NAPA preparation process and NAPA implementation process: click here.  

c) Joint National Action Plans (JNAPs)
The JNAPs are initiatives developed in the pacific in order to integrate the climate change adaptation initiatives with the disaster risk management ones: two issues strongly interconnected (i.e. many of the disasters experienced in the Pacific are related to changes in the climate regime).   
Thus, the creation of coordinated national strategies have been developed by communities in the Pacific countries in order to avoid duplication of efforts, and ensure a more efficient use of already scarce resources.  

To date, JNAPs have been prepared by the governments of:
The current JNAP process has regional organisations working side by side with national governments to support them in this process. A joint partnership arrangement exists between SPREP, SPC (SOPAC Division) and UNDP, which has been supported through bilateral assistance from governments such as Australia.

For country profiles and more information about climate change in the Pacific visit:
                                                             Pacific Climate Change Portal 
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