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Climate talks: Nicaragua demands ambitious,binding commitments

News from Nicaragua | Tuesday, 1 December 2015 |

In 2014 Nicaragua experienced its worst drought in three decades

In 2014 Nicaragua experienced its worst drought in three decades

According to Germanwatch’s 2015 Global Climate Risk Index, Nicaragua ranks fourth after Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti on an index of nations most vulnerable to the consequences of extreme weather. Between 1994 and 2013 Nicaragua suffered 49 severe weather events such as floods, landslides, drought and abnormal tides.

Paul Oquist, the Nicaraguan representative to the Paris Climate Change talks, along with other Latin American countries and India has condemned the ‘low level of ambition’ on the part of the largest polluters.

He pointed out that the ‘ten largest emitters are responsible for 72% of the emissions while the 100 smallest are responsible for 3% of the emissions.’

The Nicaraguan representative called for large emitters to recognise their historical responsibility and therefore to reduce their emissions to ensure temperature rises of no more the 1.5%.

Paul Oquist went on to reject suggestions of an agreement involving voluntary responsibility as a ‘path to failure.’ as past experience has demonstrated.

He added: “We don’t want to be [an] accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees, and the death and destruction that that represents.”


Transcript of interview

Paul Oquist, Nicaragua Climate Envoy, talks to Climate Home at the UN climate change conference in Paris, COP21, 30 November, 2015

Paul Oquist: “… the way things stand the agreement will take us to a three degree world, and in most of the developing countries that becomes four degrees and quite obviously that is absolutely unacceptable.”

“That is a threat to our agriculture, a threat to our cattle grazing, a threat to our fishing, and forestry. So we have to see results. And the results need something better than to say ‘oh we’ll spin the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) wheel in five years and see if it comes up better’.”

“It won’t come up better, and it won’t come up better for the following reasons. If you’re shooting for 2.7 [degrees] as a medium you’re not going to come closer to 2, you’ll go further away from 2.”

“Also a lot of developing countries have conditioned their INDCs on receiving finance and that finance is nowhere to be seen.”

“Then, also, you have the fact that the low levels of ambition that have led us to this 2.7 to 3.5 [degree] temperature range, instead of the 1.5 [to 2 degree range] the developing countries want, that low level ambition will lead to under execution of the commitment.”

“So there has to be another mechanism, and that other mechanism has to be based on historical responsibilities. The 10 largest emitters are responsible for 72% of the emissions. The 100 smallest are responsible for 3% of the emissions. If you’re the CEO of a company and you have an overrun that you’re up in this 2.7 to 3.5 range, let’s say that it’s billions or something, and you want to bring it down to the 1.5/2 range that’s acceptable, are you going to work on the 100 cases that have 3% or on the 10 cases that have 72%? It’s a no brainer. The only way that you can get that reduction is out of the big emitters.”

“Prince Charles said something very interesting today. That it would only take a 1.7% reduction in consumption to put us on track. That would indicate that it’s do-able. It’s not do-able because there is no willingness to make any sacrifices on the policies here and that’s why we have this very poor level of ambition.”

Interviewer: “In many previous COPs ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) have shown their opposition to deals which they think are brokered by the West and by the United States, but how much of a trouble maker will ALBA be at COP21?”

Paul Oquist: “It’s not a matter of being trouble maker. It’s a matter of the developing countries surviving. Four degrees is not a survival track with the Sahara advancing. Four degrees is not a survival track for India, Pakistan, with the glaciers melting in the Himalayas. Four degrees is not a survival track for South-East Asia with the typhoons.”

“Remember, that just this week [Michel Jarraud – The Executive Director of] the World Meteorological Organisation told us that we’re already at one degree.”

Interviewer: “Is it not important that countries like Nicaragua and Venezuela get in their INDCs? You’re yet to submit.”

Paul Oquist: “We’re not going to submit.”

Interviewer: “You’re not going to submit? Why is that?”

Paul Oquist: “Because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure.”

Interviewer: “You won’t submit in the first quarter of next year? Or you’re not submitting at all?”

Paul Oquist: “We’re not submitting at all because it’s a failed mechanism that’s leading us down the road to 3 degrees, 4 degrees, 5 degrees. It’s a mechanism to let the target float; it’s like if you have a fixed interest and a floating interest. This will float according to whatever comes out of the INDCs.”

Interviewer: “But some would say that that isolates you at talks. It means you don’t have a seat at the table if your INDC isn’t in. Do you see it that way?”

Paul Oquist: “We don’t want to be [an] accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees, and the death and destruction that that represents.”