Vulnerable Countries Band Together

Katrina McL | December 3, 2015.

There’s a new group of countries at the climate change negotiations in Paris, and they could provide the impetus for a strong agreement. It’s called the Climate Vulnerable Forum, or CVF, a group of 20 countries that, as the name suggests, are the most vulnerable to climate change. From the Philippines to Afghanistan to Costa Rica to Tuvalu, they are a diverse bunch, but united by their precariousness.

Their main demands? A long term goal of no more than 1.5°C of global warming and complete decarbonisation by 2050. No doubt, getting these two goals into the Paris Agreement will be challenging.

On the first official day of COP21 meeting, the forum delivered a declaration for their vision for taking climate action. After a frenzy of announcement-filled addresses by countries and influential people, the CVF brought the intersection of human rights and climate change to the fore. Many of the world’s wealthiest countries committed climate finance, but the countries most vulnerable to a warming planet gave a passionate call for why more effort is still needed.

Benigno Aquino, the Philippines president, is the group’s chair. Aquino led the formal adoption of the Manila-Paris Declaration, which calls for an “ambitious, universal, legally binding, dynamic and durable international agreement” to be agreed upon in Paris. In short, the CVF wants:

  • Peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2020,
  • Commitment to 100% renewable energy and full decarbonisation by 2050,
  • Formal acceptance of a temperature ceiling of 1.5°C instead of 2°C,
  • A five year review cycle of commitments, and,
  • Legally-binding mitigation commitments for major emitters.

Loss and damage is highlighted as a redline issue for many countries in the CVF. The Declaration also calls for a climate refugee protocol, an international mechanism building upon the Warsaw Mechanism, and the initiation of a process to raise financing for loss and damage.

The CVF is yet to become a proper negotiating bloc. Aquino was quick to point out the CVF is a “voluntary leadership forum” that won’t conflict or supersede with existing negotiating blocs such as the G77. Lauded by Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, for drawing attention to “different but common vulnerability among so many,” the CVF is on its way up in the climate world. It even won the ‘Ray of the Day’ award given out by the Climate Action Network for the most positive contribution.

And although Figueres did not see the group “working in articulated and coordinated fashion for this Paris Agreement,” she praised the initiative.

Evolving beyond its original mandate of simply being a forum, the CVF is now also a group with its own funding and technology sharing mechanisms. These include a CVF Trust Fund initially capitalised by Bangladesh and the South-South Centre for Excellence on Climate Information and Services. Finance ministers of the original CVF also have established an additional forum called the V20 in which to meet and raise public and private funds and share knowledge and best practices.

Financing, loss and damage, and adaptation commitments on par with those for mitigation has been an established platform for many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) within the G77 negotiating bloc. The creation of internal insurance risk pooling, knowledge sharing, and financial mechanisms within the CVF initiatives demonstrate a push by the most vulnerable countries to protect themselves against climate and build resilience regardless of the outcome of COP21. As negotiating days near an end, it may also represent a lack of faith that core CVF goals will be included at the scale necessary in Paris Agreement.

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