Least Developed Countries: Paris must not be the beginning of the end

Developed and wealthy nations must allow their policies to reflect the magnitude and urgency of action needed to tackle climate change, thus allowing a serious boost in ambition in this last round of climate negotiations before December's Paris UN talks, say the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group.

Press release, 20 October 2015
Delegates discuss the final draft text for COP21 in Bonn (Photo: UNclimatechange, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

Delegates discuss the final draft text for COP21 in Bonn (Photo: UNclimatechange, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

An encouraging number of Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs) – the country plans to tackle climate change – have been submitted, 123 in total, which includes the European Union bloc. 

However, there are fears that the current INDCs are unfortunately still a race to the bottom. The level of ambition contained within the country climate change plans put the world on a 2.7C pathway, but the LDCs are calling for a 1.5C world, as anything higher exposes our nations to irreversible changes in the climate system. 

While participation is at an unprecedented level, the LDCs also have grave concerns that too much emphasis is still on the process and communication of the INDCs, rather than the actual implementation of the plans. 

The chair of the 48-member LDC Group at the negotiations, Giza Gaspar-Martins of Angola said: "This week marks the last five negotiating days before Paris and now is the time to push for real action. It is not enough to only ask a commitment to the process, countries must sign up to a legal agreement of implementation and results that benefit us all."

The finance language in the draft agreement is the greatest area of concern, as the commitments required by developed and donor countries are not made clear, with a call for scaling up mobilisation of finance, rather than the finance itself. 

There is also no mention of the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF), the only fund dedicated to LDCs and currently standing empty despite there being approximately 230 projects in the pipeline. This does not inspire confidence. 

Coupled with the lack of mitigation ambition within the INDCs, the precarious climate finance flows seem to place an unreasonable and unachievable adaptation burden on the LDCs.

Further areas of concern for the group include:

  • The country commitments must have a legal basis, such as the Kyoto Protocol 
  • The agreement must deliver both a high level of participation and effectiveness
  • The process must be more transparent than it currently is, so progress can be measured
  • There needs to be a higher emphasis on mitigation, especially among the wealthier nations, and
  • The G77 and China's position on loss and damage is not reflected in the statement.

So far 35 out of 48 LDCs have submitted INDCs and more are coming. However, there is no mention in the co-chairs' tool of how developed countries and others will support LDCs in the implementation of these INDCs. This must also be made clearer. 

Gaspar-Martins added: "We are already facing devastating climate impacts, for example sea level rise and food insecurity are very real and present dangers. If the negotiations don't work for the most vulnerable among us – the Least Developed Countries – then they will have failed."

It is hoped that officials will leave Bonn with an almost final text to be agreed in December. 

Ambassador Collin Beck, of Solomon Islands, said: "I hear many of our partners saying 'Paris is not the end, it's the beginning'. But for many of us, if we don't get the agreement right, Paris will be the beginning of the end. 

"The science is clear that we need to limit temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees, and that for us, it's a matter of survival. We refuse to be the sacrificial lambs of the process."


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Notes to editors

The Least Developed Countries Group comprises 48 nations that are especially vulnerable to climate change but have done the least to cause the problem. They work together at the intergovernmental negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with two aims. First, to demand that wealthier nations act in accordance with their responsibility for creating the problem and their capability for addressing it. Second, to play a leadership role in global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Simon Cullen: 
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