At the 24th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP24), in Katowice, Poland, the global community fleshed out the rules to govern the Paris Agreement. Rules necessary to ensure the most vulnerable communities are not left alone to deal with the adverse effects in a world in which global warming has risen above 1.5°C.
The effects of global warming are already affecting countries and regions around the world. This is especially the case for Small Developing Island Nations (SIDS) like the Seychelles.
The Republic of the Seychelles is one of the island nations that could completely disappear fom the earth due to sea level rise. So what can a country with one of the smallest GDPs in the world do to prevent the global catastrophe lapping at its shores?
“Although we are challenged due to our small size and isolation from other nations, the Seychelles is incorporating the sustainable development goals into [its] businesses and communities, to make its economy more resilient and to help protect the people of our global community,” explained Wallace Cosgrow, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change of the Republic of the Seychelles, during a side event at COP24.
“With regards to The Seychelles’ greenhouse gas emissions, 90% come from its energy sector, almost all of its energy is fossil fuel based. Now we have decided to lead by example and have turned to the path of renewable energy,” said Theodore Marguerite an Analyst from the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
“The SIDS have historically lagged behind with in the transition to sustainable energy sources; they have been highly dependent on coal. But we are driving the change by going 100% renewable,” Minister Cosgrow added.
Similar challenges and ambitions can be found in other Small Developing Island States. Mauritius, for example, “has plenty of sunshine and wind it could use, but it relies on fossil fuel sources for its energy instead,” lamented Jugeeswar Seewoobaduth from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Mauritius.
The Republic of Mauritius has traditionally shown a progressive stance on climate policy within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as part of the Climate Vulnerable Group (CVF), a group of countries vulnerable to climate impacts and known for pushing for higher climate ambition and leading by example within the UN climate talks.
Despite their high ambitions, several SIDS have to deal with barriers to access concessional finance for their mitigation and adaptation plans; most are considered middle-income countries due to their small population size.
Davinah Milenge Uwella from the African Development Bank highlighted the range of financial institutions and mechanisms that the Bank has deployed to support Regional Member Countries including Seychelles and Mauritius, to transition to green growth. These include financial facilities such as the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI); and the green mini-grid programme under the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.
To make this shift to 100% renewable energy generation and use, investments and integrated policy are crucial, adds Stefan Wehner from the Thinktank greenwerk: “If we want these countries to succeed, we need to provide integrated energy roadmaps, investments infrastructure, technology and policy creation.”