Countries of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) have broken new ground by successfully organising the first gathering of Heads of States and governments completely online.
This sets a precedent for a future of low emissions in international fora.
The zero-carbon summit aimed at providing a platform for all leaders to commit to raising climate ambition by 2020 to keep warming below 1.5C degrees as agreed in 2015 in Paris.
It came as a response to the scientific report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released last September and was also meant to safeguard vulnerable communities worldwide from runaway climate change.
Pre-recorded video statements, panels and films were screened over 24 hours engaging various audiences over social media.
More than 50 countries participated including East Africa’s Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Germany, France, Fiji, Philippines, Mexico, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Palau, Finland, Cambodia, Switzerland, Grenada, Lebanon, Kiribati, Ireland, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sweden, Santa Lucia, Barbados, Haïti, Mongolia and others.
The Summit was an important show of leadership by the Marshall Islands and other countries most vulnerable to climate change.
It built a coalition of frontrunners who will act as the driving force for a decision on the enhancement at the upcoming UN negotiations (COP24) in Katowice and the UN Secretary General (UNSG) Summit in September 2019.
The Summit Host, President of the Marshall Islands and Chair of the CVF Dr Hilda Heine announced new and ambitious climate targets becoming one of the first along with Fiji to respond to the Paris Commitments.
This sets an example for other countries to follow to secure survival and protection of vulnerable communities worldwide.
The official outcome of the Summit, particularly the “Jumemmej Declaration” (Marshallese for vigilance against threats) will feed into the agreed mechanism to promote enhanced action by all nations party to the Paris Agreement dubbed the Talanoa Dialogue and sends a powerful call to arms to all leaders and non-state actors to enhance ambition by 2020 while emphasizing the role of the UNSG Summit in 2019.
The Declaration also announces that all CVF countries will enhance their own climate contributions by 2020.
CVF countries attempted to lead by example to emphasize that the transition to clean renewable energy and decarbonized economies that will keep warming below 1.5C is feasible and economically productive.
Although the Summit kicked off a snowball for enhanced commitments, many countries missed the intended purpose of the online meeting. This is by not participating in the Summit or by failing to present new strong and ambitious commitments.
As many speakers in the Summit expressed, enhanced commitments are the only way to safeguard vulnerable and other communities from dangerous climate impacts that are threatening their survival, peace and security worldwide.
The IPCC’s special report was clear. To keep the world safe from climate disasters, countries should take unprecedented actions to cut carbon emissions and a complete phase-out of coal by all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by 2030.
The Summit saw the participation of a number of civil society and organizational leaders including the UN, World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the Elders, Oxfam, Mission 2020, SEforAll, Greenpeace, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the World Resources Institute and CARE among others.