"1.5 Degrees Celsius is our Battle Cry"
My favorite group to follow at the COPs is the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) because it is the story of the underdog that has the passion and drive to make a global impact. They are not a negotiating block, but rather a group of countries that have joined together to give a voice to the most vulnerable countries to climate change. They put out positions as a group, but they negotiated for the positions through various other negotiating blocks including the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and the Africa Block. At their opening meeting yesterday, they adopted the Manila-Paris Declaration, which calls for heightened ambition, zero emissions by mid-century, and $20 billion in new investments in climate change action by 2020. The head of state of the Philippines who also serves as the chair of the CVF proclaimed yesterday that, “alone we are already survivors of climate impacts, together we are a force for ambitious climate action.” The CVF is a story of empowerment. Despite the fact that the member countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change, they are standing together at COP21 to not only call for an ambitious agreement, but also to lead by example. Countries such as the Maldives and Costa Rica have set targets to be carbon neutral. These countries are not at the COP to complain, they are here to remind the world that if we reach two degrees Celsius, this means that some countries will suffer significantly and might no longer exist. When asked if it is realistic to call for a 1.5 degree Celsius limit on global temperature rise, the CVF leaders responded that they would keep pushing as a united group. The minister representing the Philippines continued by saying that 1.5 degrees Celsius may be symbolic, but it is also what is required to protect his country’s existence. He ended his talk exclaiming that, “1.5 degrees Celsius is our battle cry.” This group of over 30 countries will continue to push together for an ambitious agreement, and it will be interesting to see if they can wield the political power necessary make an impact on the final text that is expected to come out of COP21.