By Pita Ligaiula

Vanuatu has urged parties in the COP26 negotiations to have new and updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that represent the highest possible ambition.

Addressing the COP26 High-level Segment Wednesday, Vanuatu Ambassador based in Geneva, Sumbue Antas said his country would like to see the highest levels of pressure applied to parties who have not yet brought their NDCs in line with 1.5-degree pathways.

“We urge parties to reach a consensus in the discussions for common time frames of the NDC. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (PA) is an item of great importance, and my country would like to see significant progress on the finalisation and the operationalisation of this Article. Increasing ambition on Article 6 will support the implementation and achievement of targets specified in NDCs. Vanuatu’s NDC reflects our firm commitment, aiming to deliver the PA ambitions, despite having ambitious 2030 targets. This is achievable only through technical and financial support. Vanuatu however, perceived last week’s negotiations deviate away from the Paris Agreement mandate on Article 6 matters.

“I expect you to push for rapid decarbonisation by 2030, starting with the eradication of fossil fuel subsidises and agreement on no new coal, oil or gas projects, in alignment with low emission development strategies and net zero emissions by 2050,” Ambassador Sumbue told the high-level segment.

He said the climate finance mobilised to support Vanuatu’s climate adaptation, mitigation and addressing loss and damage is insufficient.

“I expect that you will hold Parties responsible for meeting the US$100 billion per year commitment they made in 2009 and reaffirmed in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Beyond 2026, that baseline amount must expand considerably to meet costs that will be in the trillions.

Loss and damage is here and now, and the UNFCCC mechanisms are not delivering. I want you to push for a fully operational Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, one that serves as a technical and financial arm for us when we need it most,” he explained.

He said the UNFCCC Transparency Framework must be strengthened so that no double counting of emissions occurs, and that the amount of climate finance mobilised and delivered is unambiguous.

Ambassador Sumbue also said adaptation is the top climate priority for Vanuatu.

“I request for more support to the mainstream, integrate and implement National Adaptation Planning processes, and start a robust process that will capture Vanuatu’s progress on adaptation in the Global Stocktake and as part of a new Global Adaptation Goal. Vanuatu request for stronger language on the Finance Function of the Santiago Network. We prefer language that requests potential SNLD hosts to make Submissions early next year so we can actually start responding to requests of the most vulnerable as soon as possible.

“My country strongly believes that science must be the ultimate basis for our work and welcomes the findings of the IPCC Special Reports, specifically the special report on 1.5 degrees, and the IPCC, Working Group 1, Sixth Assessment Report. Science confirms record rates of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and a terrifying approach towards the 1.5 °C global heating limit. Every year and every degree brings the Pacific Islands new levels of climate extremes and climate suffering. We need to heed the science,” explained Ambassador Sumbue.

He said human-caused climate change is undermining Vanuatu’s right to sustainable development, and global efforts to protect planetary biodiversity and the future of our oceans.

“Our government is prioritising legal pathways to hold polluters to account, whether state parties or corporations, whether far away or in the Pacific region.  “These grave climate injustices must stop by sustained, radical, and socially just cuts to emissions now, not later.

“I call on all negotiators to prioritise action over politics, resilience over economic gain, and justice over inequality.

“We stand in solidarity with all of those who have suffered, like us, the excruciating pain of this climate crisis,” said Ambassador Sumbue.