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Work on national climate plans not on hold – Espinosa

Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, has underlined the need to continue to drive ambition and ensure that countries’ national climate action plans, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), are as robust as possible.

patricia espinosa
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC

The UN Climate Chief made the submission on Monday, April 20, 2020 while delivering a keynote address by video at the High-Level Opening of the virtual Placencia Ambition Forum which held in Belize from April 20 to 21.

Organised by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the virtual forum brought together major actors in the climate change negotiations around the central theme of increasing ambition and safeguarding the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Considered vital to maintain momentum for climate action, the forum showcased ideas to scale up ambition, even as it featured local communities, indigenous people, governments, and other stakeholders.

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Voicing her appreciation for the organisation of the virtual meeting in these challenging times, Ms. Espinosa pointed to the significant impacts and opportunities of Covid-19 and climate change.

“With respect to impacts, Covid-19 has revealed the world’s vulnerabilities, many of which intersect with the climate crisis. At the same time, it has highlighted the importance of expertise and science, cooperation, information, and transparency. And it has, in many cases, demonstrated that societies can, when necessary, pull together to address a global challenge with bold responses,” she said.

The Small Island Developing States understood better than anyone else, she said, that while Covid-19 is the challenge of today, climate change is a challenge that preceded it and will continue over the long term, bringing extreme weather events such as Cyclone Harold, a category five storm, which killed dozens when it hit Vanuatu and the neighbouring Solomon Islands earlier this month.

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Looking ahead, while the postponement of both the Subsidiary Body meetings and the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 had to be done to protect all those involved, Ms. Espinosa stressed that “delay does not change the need to continue addressing climate change or to boost ambition, and the need to submit NDCs by the end of this year.”

She underlined the urgent need for climate action to continue unabated through other means, as with this forum, and stated that, “our work in 2020 is not, in any form, on hold.”

She congratulated the AOSIS members for the group’s decision to join the climate ambition alliance last year, with all members taking the pledge to enhance NDCs and work towards CO2 neutrality by the middle of the century, adding: “New NDCs need to take into consideration and reflect the latest trends in everything from policies, to the cost of different technologies, to updating rates of renewable energy and many other factors.”

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Ms. Espinosa cited the announcement by Chile two weeks earlier of its plans for communicating a more ambitious NDC, which she described as both “exciting” and “motivating.”

She encouraged all AOSIS members to take the boldest steps possible in enhancing ambition and to amplify this message of ambition throughout the year, which “sets an example for other nations to follow suit.”


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