FSM Congress Delegation attends historic COP 21: FSM joins the world in approving climate agreement

Paris, France. December 14, 2015 – A Congressional delegation attended COP21 in Paris as part of the FSM delegation, which joined 195 other Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to approve the first universally applicable agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs): the Paris Agreement.  On December 12, 2015 at 7:30 PM, the President of COP21 announced that the Paris Agreement was adopted by consensus of the Parties at COP21. The announcement provoked prolonged acclamation.

“This is a happy ending to a very arduous process, and a good day for the small island states” said Senator Isaac Figir of the FSM State of Yap who was part of the delegation. Senator Figir has been mentioned to chair the newly formed Special Committee on Climate Change of the FSM Congress.

The Agreement calls for holding the increase in global average temperature to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts to limit” that increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The latter long-term temperature goal was favored by small island developing States, which are threatened by a host of climate change impacts–including sea level rise, coral bleaching, and storms of historic intensities–that will likely worsen in a world that has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In order to achieve its long-term temperature goal, the Agreement moves beyond the bifurcated approach in the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC and establishes a common and durable global framework for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Specifically, the Agreement creates a system for submitting nationally determined contributions (NDCs), as well as for reviewing and updating them at regular intervals.  NDCs are voluntary targets to reduce GHGs that all Parties to the Agreement must submit.  NDCs represent a bottom-up approach to the mitigation of GHGs, in contrast to previous efforts in the Kyoto Protocol that created a global GHG budget and required developed country Parties to reduce their GHGs in accordance with that budget.  Also in contrast to previous efforts, the Agreement’s legally binding requirement for submitting mitigation targets is applicable to all Parties to the Agreement, developing as well as developed country Parties.

In accordance with this new framework, the FSM has pledged to reduce by 2025 at least 28% of its GHGs, based on their level in 2000. Commenting on the FSM’s pledge, Speaker Wesley Simina, who hails from the FSM State of Chuuk, said: “We will step up to the challenge.”

The Agreement also encourages robust financial assistance from developed country Parties to developing country Parties in support of their efforts to mitigate their GHGs, adapt to climate change impacts, and comply with reporting requirements regarding their implementation of their NDCs.  A decision adopted by COP21 in connection with the Paris Agreement reaffirms the commitment of developed country Parties to raise at least $100 billion in climate finance by 2020.

In addition, the Agreement formally anchors the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM), which was created in COP19 by decision after years of advocacy by Small Island Developing States.  Loss and damage is a term that refers to the harms from climate change that cannot be prevented by mitigation or addressed by adaptation.  The Agreement calls on Parties to work through the WIM in a cooperative and facilitative manner to address loss and damage in a variety of ways.

A copy of the Paris Agreement (as well as a COP21 decision adopting and implementing the Paris Agreement) can be downloaded at:  http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf

The Congress delegation was headed by Speaker Wesley Simina and comprised of Senator Isaac Figir and Senator Esmond Moses.  Legislative Counsel Lam Dang and consultant Clement Yow Mulalap staffed the delegation. Senator Moses is slated to become the Vice Chair of the new Special Committee on Climate Change of the FSM Congress.

Earlier in the week the delegation attended parliamentarians meetings organized by the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) at the French National Assembly and Senate. The assembled parliamentarians called for immediate action to ratify and implement the climate agreement.

Throughout the week of negotiation, the Congress delegation monitored closely the negotiation and offered political advice to the negotiating team.

President Christian added the Congress delegation to the official COP21 FSM Delegation.

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