PhD Candidate, Development Studies
University of Auckland, New Zealand
The following responses seek to answer the questions posed by the National Justice Project. This short communication is a synthesis of climate change current literature, key policy documents and government consultations in Samoa. The focus is on three main areas: (i) climate change policy mechanisms; (ii) options for Samoa as it seeks to reduce its GHG emissions; and (iii) ways that Samoa’s national effort could leverage the international mitigation process.
1. Identify the most recent national commitment on reducing ghg emissions (INDCs) made by the country and the date on which it was made.
The Government of Samoa’s most recent national commitment on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (INDC) was declared on 1 October 2015 by establishing a target of generating 100% of its electricity from renewable energy (RE) sources (UNFCCC, 2015). Samoa’s INDC provides that it is targeting the Energy sector, specifically the Electricity sub-energy sector (UNFCCC, 2015). The main GHG covered in the INDC is carbon dioxide (CO2), which accounts for 51% of total CO2-2 emissions in the country (UNFCCC, 2015). The goal of generating 100% of its electricity from RE sources by 2025 increased from 26% in 2014. The INDC specifies that further economy-wide reductions are conditional on international support. As such, Samoa’s commitment is conditional on the country achieving this goal in 2017 and receiving international assistance to maintain this achievement through to 2025 (UNFCCC, 2015). These processes must be linked to a robust means of implemetation which include technological development and transfer, capacity building and financial support.
Progress has been made to set a pathway for climate change mitigation programming. In 2010, the Cabinet Development Committee endorsed a call for Samoa to become carbon neutral by 2020. Renewable energy investments have been made in the research of biofuel and hydroelectric power generation. Samoa has also conducted two GHG inventories to measure its GHG emissions over time and issued its National GHG Abatement Strategy 2008-2018 which calls for the increased production and the use of biofuels while improving energy efficiency (UNFCCC, 2008).
Growing in consecutives stages, the Government of Samoa aims to voluntarily reduce their GHG emissions without placing a constraint on its sustainable development agenda (MOF, 2012a). Building on its first GHG inventory, Samoa’s 2nd National GHG inventory fulfils its international reporting obligations and helps to monitor the progress of where the biggest GHG savings can be made (UNFCCC, 2008). In this context, the INDC target is elevated through a slew of law, policy level measures and development projects outside the Energy sector. The Waste Management Act 2010 legally mandates the Government of Samoa to regulate all waste in the country. The Forestry Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) has also undertaken mitigation efforts to include projects which are funded through the Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism. Such projects have increased sustainable forest monitoring as well as the promotion of sustainable forestry management. Other feasibility studies have been carried out for tidal, solar, wind and biomass strategies with seven different international development aid donors to fund these initiatives across all these areas. The succcessful mitigation of other GHGs are an unintended consequence of Samoa’s national commitment under the Montreal Protocol to limit GHG emissions of other ozone-damaging substances.
In the long term, Samoa’s investment to reduce GHG emissions through its INDC will pay off in lessening the probability of harmful climate change. The Government of Samoa is engaged in climate change strategic policy developments through their National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) plans for 2015-2019. Samoa’s national commitment to mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation into policy will support the affected sectors and help to reduce GHG emissions on the path towards low-carbon transitions. This ethic of responsibility to mitigate GHG emissions is therefore served by the Government of Samoa’s commitment to implement NAMAs.
The National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) 2015-2019 has been proposed to strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework for climate change governance in Samoa. The NCCS 2015-2019 will coordinate climate change mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation; mainstream climate change adaptation into development policy; and more fundamentally, mainstream climate change mitigation into development policy to help reduce GHG emissions. There are also plans to integrate the NAP and NAMA goals into Samoa’s national sector plans as well as the next Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) 2017-2021. Doing so, however, would require a formal mandate to give the relevant ministries and agencies the authority to coordinate and implement the NCCS 2015-2019.
Figure 1.1 Samoa’s Projected Total Emissions Under Three Emissions Scenarios, 2008-2020
Source: UNFCCC, 2010, p77.
2. Given that any national ghg emissions reduction target is implicitly a position on an atmospheric ghg concentration that will avoid dangerous climate change, to what extent has the nation expressly identified an atmospheric ghg level target goal or a warming limit that its INDC is designed to achieve and is it possible to quantitatively examine how the ghg emission target links quantitatively to an atmospheric ghg concentration or carbon budget?
Samoa ascribes to the GHG atmospheric concentration levels that are endorsed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and principles of the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2010). Samoa’s total emissions for the year 2007 was estimated at 352,034 tCO2-e or about 0.0006% of the 2004 global GHG emissions (UNFCCC, 2010). In this context, Samoa’s warming limit that its INDC is designed to achieve is defined by its focus on generating 100% of its electricity from RE sources by the year 2017 (UNFCCC, 2015). The planned initiatives that will contribute to Samoa’s GHG abatement in the energy sector will be made through the gradual shift from fossil fuel dependency to RE investments (MOF, 2012a).
The Government of Samoa employs quantitative accounting methods to track its mitigation contributions and the IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2006; UNFCCC, 2008). The challenge in terms of tracking and monitoring progress is to put in place robust measures for data collection.
Samoa’s GHG emissions has come off a relatively low baseline. In 1994, when its emissions were first recorded, a significant portion of households had no access to electricity and the economy were based on agriculture. Since that time, Samoa has undertaken significant social and economic developments. In 2010, Samoa’s GHG emissions had increased by 113% since the 1994 baseline when the total emissions were 165, 633 t CO2e. This represents an average annual growth rate of 16%.
If no GHG abatement measures are implemented, Samoa’s overall emissions are projected to steeply increase through 2020. Under mitigation scenario 2, however, Samoa’s overall emissions could reduce by up to 20% by 2020. These reductions are largely concentrated in the energy sector and could require significant investment to be implemented.
The Government of Samoa have considered mitigation options for the period 2009-2020. There are numerous efforts to promote the use of RE sources to displace fossil fuel for electricity generation. With the support of its international development partners, the additional mitigation opportunities include the completed expansion of hydropower generation and other RE options to contribute to the GHG abatement in the short- to medium-term; and demand-side energy efficiency initiatives through the Power Sector Expansion Programme.
An essential element to realising Samoa’s commitment to climate change mitigation is having a favourable policy environment in place. Samoa’s key policy actions that link quantitatively to its carbon budget includes the Samoa Energy Sector Plan (SESP) 2012 – 2016 (MOF, 2012b) and Electricity Act 2010 (Office of the Regulator, 2010). The SESP 2012 – 2016 is a key guiding document for the Energy sector with a theme of sustainable energy towards energy self sufficiency (MOF, 2012b). The Energy sector plan seeks to deliver outcomes consistent with the Strategy for Development for Samoa with an overarching goal of increasing energy self sufficiency. The Electricity Act 2010 introduced key regulatory changes which have allowed the private sector to be involved in generating electricity and selling it back to the utility (Office of the Regulator, 2010). This has allowed independent power producers (IPPs) to build and operate RE power plants and sell electricity to the grid. Again, the other key policy drivers include the National GHG Abatement Strategy, NPCCC 2007 and the draft Energy Efficiency Act.
Samoa’s climate policy is slowly transitioning towards integrating long-term transformations in its Energy sector. But with most entities that develop over time, the energy sector has not always grown in a systematic fashion to accommodate new challenges and international commitments. The SESP 2012-2016, therefore, sets a low emissions pathway to strengthen policies on energy efficiency and the promotion of RE sources. For such purposes, energy and climate policy have endorsed two intended results: first, to reduce climate change’s impact and variability, increasing the adaptive capacity and disaster risk management which will provide better resilience; second, to support the key sector emission reduction activities to drive the low emission development transformation process to achieve the country’s climate action goals and obligations under the UNFCCC.
Samoa’s mitigation actions can be divided into four broad policy options:
(i) Reducing the energy demand and GHG emissions (energy efficiency, low carbon pathway);
(ii) Fuel switching in end-uses (transport, buildings);
(iii) Enhancing carbon sinks (reforestation, land-use);
(iv) Decarbonising energy supply (electricity).
The INDC target year is 2025 which will be measured against the base year of 2014. Therefore, Samoa’s period for defining actions for implementation is 2015-2025. Samoa’s overall commitment to generating 100% of its electricity from RE sources by 2025 is conditional on whether it achieves this target in 2017 and upon receiving external assistance to maintain the contribution of RE at 100% through to 2015. These commitments are proposed to be implemented over two time periods. The first target is to reach 100% of RE electricity generation by the year 2017 (UNFCCC, 2015). The second target is to maintain this 100% contribution to 2025 in anticipation of the increasing electricity demand (UNFCCC, 2015).
It is possible to quantitatively examine how Samoa’s INDC target links quantitatively to an atmospheric GHG concentration or carbon budget. Key assumptions and drivers are highlighted in Samoa’s 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2010). In this context, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) developed emissions projections under three scenarios as part of Samoa’s 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2010 at p. 77). The baseline emissions scenario is a Business As Usual (BAU) projection of GHG emissions; population and economic growth trends continue with no GHG abatement measures (UNFCCC, 2010 at p. 77). Accordingly, for mitigation scenario 1 and mitigation scenario 2, all planned GHG abatement activities are implemented in light of the ongoing population and economic growth trends (UNFCCC, 2010 at p. 77). The differential factor between the two mitigation scenarios is that scenario 2 includes additional mitigation opportunities (UNFCCC, 2010 at p. 77).
Samoa has already undertaken and implemented a range of mitigation projects in the energy sector. These projects include various renewable energy projects for electricity generation as well as energy efficiency projects aimed at both supply and demand management. Significant donor assistance through grant financing has enabled the implementation of many projects. Some of these projects include:
Figure 1.2 Samoa’s mitigation projects in the Energy sector’
Source: UNFCCC, 2015, p7.
Although time did not allow for a comprehensive national consultation process, the targeted dialogues with key stakeholders have provided the information and relevant action plans needed to achieve the country’s INDC goals. Samoa’s method for estimating GHG emissions were coordinated by the MNRE with the technical assistance and input from working groups made up of the key relevant stakeholders from the: MNRE, Ministry of Finance (Energy Divisions); Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI); Ministry of Revenue (Customs Department); Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; Electric Power Corporation (EPC); and, the National University of Samoa. Other stakeholders are consulted to provide the data as required. Samoa also reserves the right to use market mechanisms to accomplish its mitigation goals.
Samoa has submitted an INDC with a combination of actions and outcomes. In its current form, the INDC includes a list of policies and measures to meet the overall target. Samoa is focused on infrastructure investments; increasing their potential for substitutions and their transition towards low-carbon electricity systems. In terms of migitation, the NAMAs are by definition, policies and action plans that countries undertake to reduce GHG emissions. Samoa’s proposed NAMAs aim to identify and implement development priorities that are less GHG intensive compared to traditional practices. To ensure that NAMAs can deliver on achieving GHG emission reductions, they need to be designed to provide transformational impacts and contribute to sustainable development.
3. Given that any national ghg emissions reduction target is implicitly a position on what ethics, justice and equity requires of it, to what extent has the nation expressly identified the justice or equity basis that it has considered in determining a ghg emissions reduction target percentage level?
Samoa is highly vulnerable to natural disasters because of its geological constitution and geographical location. Although justice and equity issues related to climate change mitigation are particularly challenging, Samoa has a clear ethic of responsibility for climate change. In setting itself a target of generating electricity from 100% RE sources, Samoa has set a highly ambitious and fair target to demonstrate its commitment to reducing its emissions (UNFCCC, 2015).
Climate change is accepted as a truly global issue which requires international engagement and solutions. In publishing its 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC, Samoa is not just fulfilling its obligations under the UNFCCC, it is doing it in a spirit of transparency. Samoa will take responsibility for meeting its INDC target through a combination of voluntary domestic emissions reductions. Samoa’s 2nd National Communication and GHG Inventory highlighted the insignificantly low contribution of its emissions to the global aggregate. However, Samoa recognises the potential of reducing its GHG emissions to not only support the global effort and demonstrate its willingness to address climate change issues but also to support the government’s development vision of improved quality of life for all. This is made even more difficult by the fact that the Government of Samoa have limited financial, technical and human resources.
Ethics and justice are relevant not only in the formulation of climate change policy; it is highly relevant to the implementation of policy itself. As is the case in all matters, the way climate change politics are conducted is influenced by the way in which its possible solutions are perceived. Values and ideas have influenced the evolution of Samoa’s climate change policies. Ethical values concerning intergenerational justice are apparent in their climate and energy policy frameworks (MOF, 2012b). This is reflected in their activities to move away from their heavy reliance on fossil fuels towards RE sources. Samoa seeks to gradually phase out its GHG emissions in line with its focus on environmental sustainability, which involves both intra-generational and inter-generational equity (MOF, 2012a).
The international climate change negotiations are guided by science and its associated uncertainties, but this may mask the fundamental underlying concerns over ethics, justice and equity. Samoa’s international position on climate change implicates the duties that countries have to one another. This includes the responsibilities that we have today for the well-being of the future generations; the responsibilities that we have to protect our natural resource systems; the rights, responsibilities and duties of citizens, corporations and governments with respect to climate change.
Another critical issue is differentiated responsibilities as the core expression of equity within the UNFCCC. Article 3 of the UNFCCC dictates the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and that developed countries should take the lead in addressing climate change (UNFCCC, 1992 at art. 2). The CBDR addresses the common responsibilities of states to protect their environmental resources and to develop in a sustainable way. It suggests that different national circumstances should be taken into account in accordance with each state’s contribution to the creation of the climate change problem.
Samoa’s national climate change policies are based on the provisions of the UNFCCC in Article 2 which calls for the stabilisation of atmospheric GHG concentrations at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference, with the Earth’s climate (UNFCCC, 1992 at art. 2). From a normative perspective, one might argue that Samoa should meet a commonly accepted ethical standard of international burden sharing. This takes, as a basic premise, that the disadvantaged stand to suffer the risks of global warming more disproportionately than others. Climate justice, in this sense, recognizes the relationship between social inequality and environmental degradation, which affects the livelihoods of the Samoan people, who have contributed little to climate change yet could suffer disproportionately from the consequences of the climate change problem.
The SDS 2012-2016 is the overarching development plan for the Government of Samoa. It guides Samoa’s sector planning and provides linkages between the fourteen national sector plans. It also calls for climate change mainstreaming as a cross-cutting priority areas and stresses that the environment will feature prominently as a cross-cutting consideration in all planning activities as well as the formulation of sector plans. The SDS identifies many areas for climate change programming in Samoa. Sustainable management planning and the increased use of RE sources are important climate change priorities. Another key activity area is the continued coastal management programme which are implemented through the NAPA projects. The NAPA projects help communities become more climate change resilient.
Samoa, in particular, has introduced environmental policies to consider social equity, environmental capacity and economic feasibility simultaneously rather than as separate policy objectives. An example of this includes the Samoa Energy Sector Plan (SESP) 2012-2016 which integrates social policy for a healthy Samoa with economic and environmental sector priority areas of sustainable tourism as well as climate and disaster resilience (MOF, 2012b).
The ethical considerations of fairness, equity and responsibility are, therefore, a centerpiece of Samoa’s efforts to determine its voluntary GHG emissions reduction target. Samoa is a member of the non-Annex 1 countries that do not have a GHG reduction commitment. It acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2000 and its emissions are totally negligible to those of the largest GHG emitters. Even so, Samoa accepts that it has an individual and collective responsibility to share the burdens associated with climate change.
Samoa assumes a responsibility for robust domestic climate action. The MNRE host Environmental Awareness events as an annual and ongoing campaign to engage the public in doing its fair share to address climate change. According to Samoa’s 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC, equity is discussed here in relation to the mitigation of GHG emissions under the frame of climate change as an environmental problem which is linked to sustainable development. Anchoring the obligation in individual and collective duties this way comports with considerations of historical and intergenerational responsibilities for climate change.
In 2010, the estimated global GHG emission from human activities totaled nearly 46 billion metric tonnes of GHG expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents (UNFCCC, 2010). These numbers are net emissions which include the effects of land use and forestry according to the 2006 IPCC guidelines (IPCC, 2006). Within these divides, Samoa’s 2nd National Communication attributes the biggest share of Samoa’s GHG emissions to fuel consumption in the energy sector; followed by methane and nitrous oxide emissions associated with livestock farming. The emissions from the waste sector and industrial processes and product use account for a minor share of Samoa’s overall GHG emissions.
Overall, therefore, Samoa’s conception of ethics and justice permeates its institutional arrangements and international obligations. While the Government of Samoa is committed to reducing its GHG emissions, it is important to recognise that Samoa’s GHG emissions are very small compared to global emissions.
4. To what extent, if any, has the national debate about the nation’s INDC considered or acknowledged that the nation not only has economic interests in setting its ghg target but also ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable to climate change?
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable owing to their narrow resource base, high export concentration, geographical remoteness and high levels of national debt. Samoa shares many of these vulnerabilities with other SIDS as such threats are exacerbated by climate change and natural disasters. In a World Bank report, Samoa was ranked 30th of countries most exposed to three or more hazards (World Bank, 2013). Samoa was ranked 71st out of 179 countries in the Global Climate Risk Index 2014 report on who suffers most from extreme weather events (Kreft & Eckstein, 2014).
Samoa is a Least Developed Country (LDC) and as such has contributed very little to the climate change problem. For small economies, like Samoa, the incentive to mitigate climate change is different. Samoa cannot unilaterally change the level of harm they face from climate change since they cannot materially impact the global GHG emission levels. Even so, Samoa is working towards increasing its energy efficiency, saving energy and increasing RE usage.
In an area as sensitive as energy and climate change, far-reaching policies reveal that Samoa is committed to reducing its GHG emissions and at the same time is pursuing a low carbon emission development pathway which would have significant economic benefits. Samoa’s policies are directed towards low carbon transitions within the economic sectors of Agriculture, Finance, Tourism and Trade, Commerce and Manufacturing (TCM) or activities across the sectors for a broader national focus. Here, Samoa recognises the potential for reducing its GHG emissions also a way to support the government’s development vision of improved quality of life for all (MOF, 2012a; UNFCCC, 2015). This necessitates multi-stakeholder dialogue on the role of government but there has been little national debate about Samoa’s INDC and whether it includes an ethical obligation to those who are most vulnerable to climate change.
The projected rise in sea levels, ocean acidification, fluctuations in annual temperatures and precipitation patterns are included in the climate risk profile for Samoa (UNDP, 2007). The 2013 State of Environment (SOE) report for Samoa highlighted that the immediate threats to Samoa’s physical environment are severe weather events associated with climate variability such as cyclones, floods and droughts. The most recent example of such threats include the 2012 Cyclone Evan which was responsible for killing at least 5 people and displacing 4, 763 individuals. Cyclone Evan also caused damages of almost 20% of Samoa’s GDP (Kreft & Eckstein, 2014). Therefore national awareness campaigns on climate change are overwhelmingly focused on the ever-increasing vulnerability and threat of extreme weather events.
Climate change poses a threat to economic development. Samoa is a vulnerable economy relying heavily on imported fossil fuels. In this context, again, Samoa is committed to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels through the promotion of RE sources and energy efficiency practices while at the same time trying to mitigate its GHG emissions. Samoa’s national mitigation policies have been oriented towards changing its energy mix. Although the current framework is far from an ideal one; there is a clear acknowledgement of Samoa’s national commitment to reducing its GHG emissions.
There is widespread acknowledgement that Samoa has vested economic interests on the opportunities for environmental and real improvements in the key economic sectors. Both the environment and natural resources of Samoa, provide economic development opportunities in such sectors as agriculture, fisheries, tourism and energy. Samoa’s national environmental frameworks seek to maintain the carrying capacities of the country’s natural and physical resources through the promotion of environmentally sound and sustainable developments, and the preservation of critical areas of the country’s biological resources. The MNRE is only able to fulfill this responsibility for climate change with the cooperation of many other relevant governmental, non-governmental, private sector and village authorities. Therefore, the role of the environment and natural resources play a direct and indirect role in the economy of Samoa.
Despite its high vulnerabilities to external shocks, Samoa has experienced stable economic growth since 2008 (ADB, 2014). Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at about 4% per annum and above the average growth rate compared to other Pacific region economies (ADB, 2014). The annual long-term growth rate is expected to be about 3.5% (ADB, 2014). Samoa’s economic growth is driven by business services, agriculture, construction and finance. The tourism sector is also playing a big part in the economic growth of the country. In broadening the context of economic activities and private sector development, key strategies include sustainable economic growth rates and poverty reduction.
Climate change and natural disasters will adversely impact the economic growth and social development of Samoa. Here, disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures have been integrated into Samoa’s sustainable development planning through a process of implementing both structural and non-structural means of mitigation to ensure minimal impacts on the vulnerable people and communities in the event of a natural disaster (MNRE, 2010a).
Samoa’s conventional energy policy facilitates an adequate supply of energy at a low price in order to facilitate economic activity and growth. Samoa’s economy is measured with the consumption of energy per capita. Recognizing the complex challenges posed by climate change, Samoa is hard pressed to maximize their electricity generation and alternative sources of energy through RE options. Questions about demand, supply, use and the consequences of energy use have been subject to state intervention. In this context, the conflicting goals of expensive and inexpensive energy options are not easy to reconcile. Abundant and low-cost energy is a benefit for Samoa. It is a human imperative to provide low-cost energy. A predictable outcome, however, of high-energy prices is the impediment to economic growth. This is not an acceptable outcome for Samoa who depend on high rates of economic growth in order to eliminate poverty and improve the living standards of their people.
As a matter of ethics, the stewardship role in natural resources management is central to the economic prosperity of the country. The MNRE Corporate Plan 2014-2018 outlines MNRE’s priorities and work programme (MNRE, 2014). Its statement of intent is to deliver the national outcomes and integrate objectives protecting and improving Samoa’s natural resources and environment and at the same time contribute to sustainable economic growth. The National Environment & Development Sector Plan (NESP) 2013-2016 is an ambitious and broad-ranging Plan with the fundamental purpose of protecting and improving the environmental and its natural resources to improve the quality of life for all Samoans (MNRE, 2013). MNRE also continue to elevate the public and business awareness of the environment to encourage the shared commitment to environmental protection. The MNRE Corporate Plan 2014-2018 seeks a partnership with everyone in Samoa, individually and collectively to take responsibility for eachother’s actions and decisions in order to achieve sustainable development (MNRE, 2014).
In the 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC, Samoa adopts the vulnerability and adaptation assessments to update its existing databases about how climate change predictions may impact its key economic sectors (UNFCCC, 2010). The outcomes from these assessments support the decisions made at the sectoral and national levels as well as the implementation of appropropriate adaptation measures. The assessments applied the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006 guidelines and Pacific community based vulnerability and adaptation methodologies specific to Samoa’s national circumstances. Samoa’s Climate Risk Profile (CRP) was at the core of the scientific tools used for the vulnerability and adaptation assessments (UNDP, 2007). CRPs examine the likelihood of climate related risks based on observed and other climate data, estimates and future risk changes which are taken from the outputs selected from the Global Climate Models (GCM) for a range of GHG emission scenarios. The 2nd national communication elaborates further by including that CRPs are supplemented by sector data and consultations; therefore, confirming that climate change effects are an immediate reality for the citizens of Samoa.
Of particular concern, is the key question that emerges on how to effectively implement the SAMOA Pathway as a roadmap (UNGA, 2014). Partnerships are key in this respect and capacity building is critical for SIDS to take ownership of their sustainable development and to build their resilience to natural disasters.
5. To what extent have NGOs or other major participants engaged in climate change policy formation at the national level examined the national INDC from an ethics, justice, or equity perspective?
There has been little movement by NGOs or other major participants engaged in climate change policy formation at the national level to examine Samoa’s INDC from an ethics, justice or equity perspective. Time did not allow for a comprehensive national consultation process in Samoa’s domestic INDC preparations. For my reasons noted above, however, Samoa is currently focused on the development of its NAPs and NAMA as part of its commitment to reduce its GHG emissions. Throughout such processes, there have been three primary NGOs that are engaged in the formation and implementation of national level environment activities. Their position taken is based on advocacy for environmental management in areas of public awareness, education and highlighting environmental issues.
The Matua-i-le-o’o Environment Trust Inc (METI) was esblished in 2000 and provides support to the government’s climate change Projects especially the NAPA and Capacity Building for the Development of Adaptation Measures in Pacific Island Countries (CBDAMPIC). METI have collaborated extensively with the NAPA team and is an active member of the National Country Coordination Team (NCCCT). O le Siosiomaga Society Inc (OLSSI) is an active environmental NGO and stakeholder for all climate change activities in Samoa. The Samoa Red Cross Society Inc is also involved in pre-disaster planning and post-disaster relief work; and is an active member of the NCCCT. In collaboration with the MNRE, it conducts disaster preparedness and climate change training in the village communities.
The National University of Samoa (NUS) and University of the South Pacific (USP) raises the public awareness about climate change. The research and training courses are focused on national, regional and international issues affecting the Pacific region. The academic institutions also provide education programmes relevant to climate change and research assistance. The Institute of Research, Extension Training and Agriculture (IRETA) is located at the USP’s Alafua campus.
From the NGO and academic institution contributions, it is clear that Samoa is proactive in their multi-stakeholder efforts to deal with climate change. This includes mechanisms through education and increasing the resilience of the natural environment. And while NGOs and other major stakeholders possess the commitment to address the issue nationally, there is a need for greater financial and technical support as a matter of procedural equity.
6. To what extent has the national media covered issues concerning the national INDC with respect to ethical, justice, and equity issues?
As a mechanism to engage the public and enhance the awareness for climate change issues; the national media platform have not looked at the INDCs with respect to ethical considerations, justice and equity issues. There is a general expectation, however, that the existing platforms within the country will build the trust and harmony necessary for transparency. The Rt Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi stresses this point and the importance of harmony in the development of national climate change programming activities.
Although there is very little public awareness of the INDC, Samoa already has well-developed avenues for monitoring and reporting its GHG emission reduction efforts through print, television and online media sources. To explain this further, the Honourable Minister Fa’amoetauloa Tumaali’i for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) emphasises that vulnerability is a guiding lens to inform the direction of climate change mitigation programming in Samoa. The media have, therefore, focused on vulnerability through the wider scope of equity, justice and ethics.
On climate change and similar issues, it is necessary to understand the nature and scope of the media platform in meeting deadlines with the ability to communicate with cogency. The national media are not fully engaged in covering climate change to match the extent of its severity. The challenge is to deliver reports on a subject that is highly technical, and exacerbated by concurrent international trends such as the loss of carbon sinks and increasing globalization. In addition, many reporters are not in a position to make an in-depth analysis of the accuracy of climate science statements. This is especially true of the declarations made by Samoa as outlined by their INDC. The INDC proposes a multi-level impact on policy with an agenda that is ambitious. Beyond agenda setting, the civic awareness of the impacts of climate change have been achieved through the use of mass national media campaigns and this widens the scope of Samoa’s environmental ethic.
Samoa relies heavily on the media to ensure that an awareness of climate change matters are actively promoted, integrated and mainstreamed at the national and community levels, with the full participation of all key stakeholders including education and vocational training institutions. Capacity building is complemented through the national media as a mechanism which aligns with the SDS 2012-2016 to facilitate dialogue and information sharing between the Government, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders.
Whether accurately or not, Samoa media have played a central role in educating the public on climate change and the impact that anthropogenic (human-induced) activities have on the climate. On closer inspection, however, a great deal of nuances and facts on climate change can be overlooked. The media’s preference for immediate crises and the latest climate projections such as the visual and immediate effects of climate change, has often overlooked the underlying causes of climate change. This is especially true across all forms of media; representations of climate change leadership have played a major role in shaping the public’s perception associated with climate change and the political will associated with climate change governance in Samoa (Savali, 2015). The issue of whether climate change is occurring and whether human activities are responsible is no longer up for debate in the public, policy, and science.
The media coverage of the issue of climate change was intensified during the UN Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), 1-4 September 2014, The SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway outcome document of the UN Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was the centrepiece for most of Samoa’s local newspapers. The principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, including the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) were reaffirmed in the document (UNGA, 2014). The SAMOA Pathway also recognizes that RE sources such as biomass and solar are being utilised in several SIDS and across a number of sectors; these need to be developed further in order to ensure its sustainability in the long term. The outcome document (A/CONF.223/3, at para 47) also recognizes the heavy dependence on imported foreign oil as a source of SIDS vulnerabilities and acknowledges the efforts of SIDS to promote sustainable energy as contained in the Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States. There was a lot of national media attention on the use of biogas during the UN SIDS conference as a major success story for Samoa. Regional and international development banks, the UN system, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and development partners have been urged to intensify funding, capacity-building and technology support to SIDS in order to advance sustainable energy systems.
7. Before any nation may adopt an INDC or climate policy it often has to satisfy national economic interests. Yet many nations fail to disclose the national economic interests that have actually affected the lack of aggressiveness of the national INDC when commitments are made under the UNFCCC. Given this, what is known about the actual basis for the aggressiveness of the national INDC?
Highlighting the vulnerability of the country to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards, Samoa recognize the challenge to pursue economic development while simultaneously having to address the growing problem of climate change. Increasing temperatures, coupled with changes in hydrological regimes, will progressively exacerbate the country’s existing vulnerabilities and impact sectors that are strategically important for the growth of Samoa’s economy (for example, agriculture and tourism). The national INDC, therefore, provides an opportunity to enhance the implementation of Samoa’s sustainable development goals as articulated in its national development agenda.
The actual basis for Samoa’s INDC is also premised on maintaining a stable macro-economic state of the country, as a pre-condition for achieving a better quality of life for every Samoan (UNFCCC, 2015). Samoa’s economy is relatively small with an aggregate GDP in current prices of US$437,705,500 million (WST$1130 million) in 2005 which implies a per capita income of US$871, 537500 (WST$2250 million) (MOF, 2015). Consequently, Samoa’s economic performance is restricted by distance to markets, a small domestic market, a skill base that is not competitive with Asian countries in labour intensive production and vulnerability to natural disasters, particularly cyclones. For that reason, the Government of Samoa has streamlined an institutional framework for preparing and implementing economic development strategies.
A slew of mitigation and adaptation policy measure have already been launched to achieve the INDC targets (UNFCCC, 2015). Broadly, this framework articulates Samoa’s actual basis for their INDC. The economic and development planning framework has four major components: (i) the over-arching SDS 2012-2016; (ii) sector planning; (iii) project planning; and (iv) perfomance budgeting. The planning cycle for economic and development implementation provide further opportunities to incorporate INDCs and national environmental concerns into the main components of the process.
Samoa’s key climate change mitigation policies provide the strategic direction for the INDC. In 2007 and 2008, the Government of Samoa issued three key policies for climate change mitigation. Such policies disclose Samoa’s national economic interests that have guided their preparations towards its national INDC under the UNFCCC. As previously mentioned, these documents which were outlined earlier establish the overall focus of mitigation work in Samoa: National Policy for Combating Climate Change (NPCCC 2007), detail objectives for mitigation within the sector that emits the largest amount of GHG; the Samoa National Energy Policy (SNEP 2007), sets out a strategy for economy-wide reduction of GHG emissions; and the National Greenhouse Gas Abatement Strategy (NGHGAS 2008-2018) focuses on GHG mitigation measures. In terms of quantitative targets, the SNEP incorporates RE as the focus for the documents two central goals: (i) to increase the share of mass production from renewable sources to 20% by 2030; and (ii) to increase the contribution of RE for energy services and supply by 20% by year 2030.
The guiding principles for implementation are aligned with the principles adopted for national, sub-regional, regional and international initiatives, which include the Regional Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific (FAESP) and the Sustainable Energy for All (S4ALL) initiative goals (SPC, 2010; Sustainable Energy for All, 2015). The planned actions are monitored through the key strategies of the energy sub-sectors to the overall vision of Samoa’s Energy Sector Plan (SESP) 2012-2016 and SDS 2012-2016 (MOF, 2012b). Additional to the three climate change mitigation policies, the Government of Samoa passed legislation to further enhance its mitigation efforts in specific sub-sectors, the Electricity Act 2010 (Office of the Regulator, 2010). In early 2007, the Cabinet passed a motion to ban all commercial logging. Pursuant to the Waste Management Act 2010, the Government of Samoa was granted the authority to regulate all waste (MNRE, 2010b).
As stated earlier, the 2nd national communication to the UNFCCC summaries the key mitigation programmes in Samoa and the associated GHG savings. Such projects are a salient illustration and basis for Samoa’s aggressive INDC. These projects have ranged from hydroelectric power investments; solar power initiatives, biofuel trials; solid waste management; and sustainable forestry management initiatives. Samoa, therefore, has made great initial progress towards their national commitments in mitigating GHG emissions. In doing so, such initiatives will reverse the growing trend of Samoa’s GHG emissions and reduce Samoa’s heavy dependence on expensive foreign oil.
8. What formal mechanisms are available in the nation for citizens, NGOs and other interested organizations to question/contest the nation’s ethical position on climate change?
Samoa’s NGOs and other interested organizations engage with climate change matters in a number of ways, such as through the media and demonstrations (SUNGO, 2015; Samoa Observer, 2012). The formal mechanism to contest the country’s ethical position on climate change is contained in the SDS 2012-2016 (MOF, 2012a). The SDS 2012-2016 seeks to improve the quality of life for all. This vision relies on the effective implementation of the development strategies across the fourteen key national outcomes and within the four broad sectors of Samoa: Economic; Social; Infrastructure; and the Environment Sector (MOF, 2012a). Within this arrangement, the Samoan culture is a centerpiece to community development. The establishment of many programmes including the Civil Society Support Programme (CSSP) in 2010 provided the opportunity for community groups to obtain financial support for their development projects including capacity building for registered non-government organisations (NGOs) (MOF, 2012a). The CSSP is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and AusAid as an ethical basis to reflect on the meaningful engagement of civil society in Samoa’s national development framework (MOF, 2012a). The CSSP is also engaged with established NGOs to play a key role in their programme delivery (MOF, 2012a).
Samoa is acutely aware that the climate change problem is at its heart an ethical and justice problem. The impacts will spread over longer time periods and fall on our future generations. That is why Samoa values the efforts of civil society to transform climate change policy-making. The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) include the Research, Policy and Planning Division (MWCSD, 2015). This Division ensures that the provision of policy advice aligns with the national objectives contained in the Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) 2012-2016. One important provision is the coordination of surveys on recommended community issues to support policy development through its mainstream divisions and network of village representatives (MWCSD, 2015). The village representatives act as an intermediary between the government and community. To this, the representative is to ensure that the village interests are relayed to the government and that the national interests of government are relayed to the people (MWCSD, 2015). Another important role of the village representative is to collect data and to facilitate the programmes of government and/or programmes of international partners wishing to go out into the community.
Civil society groups are using every possible mechanism to overcome resistance at the national level and are driving the progressive climate change policy agenda from the bottom-up. As stated earlier, the role of civil society and NGOs are formalized in Samoa’s SDS 2012-2016 through the Civil Society Support Program (CSSP) and key indicators for the effective dialogue between Government, private sector and civil society.
The Policy and Planning Division of the MWCSD includes the network of village representatives who act as intermediaries between the government and community (MWCSD, 2015). The village representatives are paid by the Government of Samoa and are appointed by the village council; this ensures that there is an alignment and an understanding by the village representative that he represents not only the village council but also the interests of the Government of Samoa. There are three liaison officers that work with the MWCSD who are focused on the implementation and coordination of development programmes for people in the villages: (i) village representatives (“sui o le nuu”); (ii) village woman representative; and, (iii) village youth representative (MWCSD, 2015). There are also key plans and policies to mandate the functions of these representatives through the Disaster Management Act (Samoa); Water Resource Management Act 2008; Independent Water Schemes 2008; Flooding Management Plan (objective 5); and National Disaster Management Plan (MWCSD, 2015; MNRE, 2015).
Additionally, there are public consultations which are coordinated by the MNRE and other platforms where NGOs, civil society and other institutions are encouraged to voice their concerns about climate change matters. By necessity, the SDS 2012-2016 was formulated through multi-stakeholder consultations. At the sector planning stage, outputs for implementing these goals are defined in detailed in the plans of the various sectors of the economy. The assessment and evaulation of the outcomes especially on their impacts on the country’s people and society’s well-being and security over the three year period, are fed into each successive SDS.
A whole-of-government consensus approach is required to question the nation’s ethical position on climate change. The formal mechanisms incorporated through the MWCSD allow for this engagement and as a result, it is possible for multiple stakeholders’ voices to be reflected in important policy and planning instruments. An example of the NGOs, village communities and civil society taking part in international matters was evident at the UN SIDS conference in Samoa. The Honourable Minister Faamoetauloa Tumaalii for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) believes that the participation of civil society during the UN SIDS Conference is an indication of their freedom to engage in matters of a highly political nature. Unlike other environmental platforms, where NGOs play the role of the critic, the climate change regime has benefited from the participation of NGOs as partners in development.
9. Are you aware of any regional, state, provincial, or local governments in your country that has acknowledged ethical responsibility for climate change? If so, what have they said?
National efforts have focused on compiling reports that help to improve the level of awareness and knowledge on climate change matters. As I described above, the national climate change awareness campaigns are ongoing and are effectively aimed at engaging the public with climate change concerns. The Rt Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoai, has acknowledged that Samoa has an ethical responsibility for climate change. This ethic of responsibility for climate change can be seen through the key policy documents which govern climate change and Samoa’s commitment to achieve the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 1992). The Honourable Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Faamoetauloa Taito Faale Tumaalii, believes it is a moral responsibility to ensure the livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities. Given the temperature increases locked in by the present global GHG emissions, both mitigation and adapation measures are a high priority. Samoa’s ambitious INDC targets will, therefore, need the financial support, capacity building and technical support to face the uncertain future posed by climate change.
As mentioned earlier, the MNRE elevates climate change awareness through their ongoing national environment campaigns such as the National Environment Week and the Annual Climate Change Awareness Day which focuses on promoting awareness and disseminating information about climate change to the public and schools. The cooperation amongst different ministries and agencies are helping to engage and foster the values and behaviours that the younger generation will need to build a sustainable future. In consequence, an ethical responsibility for climate change is now embedded into the country’s environmental education curricula. An example of this, is the Environment Resource Education Guide for Years 7 to 10, which supports the implementation of environmental education initiatives in Samoan schools (Samoa Qualifications Authority, 2011). A key focus of the guide is to integrate education for sustainable development into the national curricula in order to empower the young to assume responsibility for their environment (MESC, 2008).
It has been noted there are great opportunities to deliver moral statements and declarations of intent for climate justice. The picture that emerges here is quite different at a national level. For matters of justice, improving access to justice, law and legal services is the focus for Samoa especially in recognising customary based justice and harmonising this with the formal justice system within the Law & Justice Sector. Based on ethical considerations as well as the just assumptions that inform individual actions to mitigate climate change, the consequences of climate change to create a higher ethical standard than one might normally impose on individuals should be made through policy development.
Samoa is taking the responsibility for its emissions and is committed to doing its fair share to address climate change. Based on this understanding, Samoa maintains the ethical view that perpetuates the region’s joint call for enhanced climate action (IISD, 2015). In line with a series of regional declarations such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat (MSG) Leaders Declaration on Environment and Climate Change, the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, and the Lifou Declaration, all levels of governance, NGOs, institutions, civil society, including the private sector have a role in reducing GHG emissions. It is necessary to employ all these factors in articulating Samoa’s position on climate justice.
Samoa chaired the leaders, Ministers and representatives of the 15 Member States and Territories at the Oceania 21 Summit, in New Caledonia (Savali, 2015). The Oceania 21 Summit resulted in the Lifou Declaration which is strongly committed to contribute to an ambitious and legally binding agreement on climate change in Paris, December 2015.
The Oceania 21 urges Parties to the UNFCCC to commit to long-term, quantitative and ambitious legally binding GHG emission reduction targets. Such targets need to be consistent with the objective of the UNFCCC in limiting global warming to less than 2C or even 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which aligns with the AOSIS position.
Although there are considerable platforms to discuss the ethical and justice considerations of climate change there is still a need to operationalise the theoretical approaches into practice. The ethical perspective can potentially break deadlocks since it provides a perspective that every party can relate to. The Lifou Declaration 2015 acknowledged the international community’s efforts to combat climate change, but it was further recognised that there were still inadequate measures in place for vulnerable developing countries, particularly SIDS in terms of funding for mitigation and adaptation policy implementation; insufficient capacity building and transfer of technological advances; weakness of measures in terms of loss and damage as well as the lack of inclusion of civil society in the international climate negotiations.
The Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) signed the Taputapuātea Declaration in French Polynesia as its position against climate change threats. The PACT was signed by Tuilaepa Sailele Maiielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, Honourable Akilisi Pohiva Prime Minister of Tonga, Honourable Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu; President of French Polynesia Edouard Fritch, Premier of Niue and PLG Chair Toke Talagi and Siopili Perez, Ulu-o-Tokelau. The PACT urges the international community to recognise and accept the specific vulnerabilities and the special case for SIDS as referred to in the SAMOA Pathway, Outcome document of the UN Third International Conference on SIDS, adopted on 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa. The three crucial elements that the PLG will raise at the Paris COP 21 include:
(i) The commitment of the international community to a binding framework which reflects climate action to keep global land temperature rise at no more than 1.5C by the year 2100 with no regrets measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change;
(ii) The Green Climate Fund should be utilised to provide the financial tools for Pacific SIDS to respond to climate change; the PLG calls for Oceania to receive its fair share of climate resources to address capacity building and technology transfer relating to climate change and its impacts;
(iii) Loss and Damage will be recognised as a critical element for building resilience against climate change.
The PACT reiterates the region’s call for justice and right of survival (PLG, 2015). In protecting the ocean and environment, this means being resilient to adverse impacts of climate change and at the same time holding the Polynesian identity.
The PLG have called the Parties to the UNFCCC to consider the real vulnerabilities to the region and admit that the intensification of extreme weather events are caused by human induced climate change. Parties to the UNFCCC should continue to support the region in terms of climate change and natural disaster adaptation through early warning mechanisms and emergency assistance.
Climate change is a threat to territorial integrity, security and sovereignty and in some cases the existence of some of the islands. The PLG acknowledged that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and importance of the Exclusive Economic Zones for Polynesian Island States and Territories whose areas are calculated according to emerged lands and permanently establish the baselines in accordance with the UNCLOS without accounting for sea level rise.
Human displacement is considered by the PLG and will result in stresses exacerbated by climate change and poverty. The establishment of an international protection regime is urged for populations displaced due to climate change (PLG, 2015).
The first Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology was held in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. The meeting will be held every four years. The Ministerial meeting adopted 25 points that will ensure that National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) have the necessary capacity to support sustainable development in the region (Government of Tonga, 2015; Relief Web, 2015). The ‘Nuku’alofa Ministerial Declaration for Sustainable Weather and Climate Services for a Resilient Pacific’ was adopted by Ministers and representatives from American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, the United States of America and Vanuatu (Government of Tonga, 2015; Relief Web, 2015)
The Declaration supports the development of weather, climate, water and related environmental services in the PICTs, which take into account national sustainable development priorities, regional and global meteorological strategies and relevant frameworks (Government of Tonga, 2015; Relief Web, 2015). The Declaration is also committed to the PICTs’ NMHS role in the development of methods for the provision of services to aviation to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) requirements, which include Quality Management System (QMS) implementation, alongside the International Organisation for Standardisation 9000 series of quality assurance and competency standards (Government of Tonga, 2015; Relief Web, 2015). Further to this, the Declaration also recognises the support from the Government of Fiji’s Meteorological Services as the WMO designated Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre for Tropical Cyclones (Government of Tonga, 2015; Relief Web, 2015). With the support from development donors, SPREP, USP and the other regional organisations, WMO and its development partners seek to implement the Pacific Roadmap on Strengthening Climate Services in the Pacific region (Government of Tonga, 2015; Relief Web, 2015).
The 46th Pacific Island Forum (PIF) and associated events took place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 7-11 September 2015 (IISD, 2015). Leaders of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) adopted the Declaration on Climate Change Action which set out 13 points that they expect from the Paris Outcome of the UNFCCC COP21 in December 2015 (IISD, 2015). The threat of climate change and the challenge that the Pacific region faces in adapting to the earliest impacts of climate change underscores the purpose of the Declaration. The Declaration represents an avenue for the Pacific region to get their issues in front of policymakers to consider. Effectively, the Declaration marks a new era of action brought against the governments for their inaction towards climate change and raises the awareness that the region have distinct needs and perspectives that are relevant to climate change policy and law-making.
The Declaration on Climate Change Action necessitates the recognition of the disproportionate impacts of cimate change on vulnerable and marginalised groups (IISD, 2015). The Declaration then calls for a series of actions on mitigation and adaptation in the Paris outcome. First, it calls for ambitious commitments by all Parties to reduce GHG emissions. Second, it calls for the regular review of mitigation commitments. Third, it calls for requirements for Parties to progressively enhance national and global mitigation action. Fourth, it calls for all relevant provisions to support further actions under the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. Fifth, it calls for the recognition of the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and marginalised groups. Sixth, it calls for the support of ongoing and improved weather services; and acknowledgment of the important role of women.
Finally, the Declaration on Climate Action sets forth calls to recognise the special circumstances of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); the transparency and accountability mechanisms; the accelerated and effective delivery of international support; the commitment from developed countries to scale up the provision of financial resources; the simplified access to financial resources; and the inclusion of the international loss and damage mechanism as an independent issue (IISD, 2015).
The Port Moresby Declaration on Climate change was a statement issued by the Smaller Island State (SIS) leaders. This Declaration calls for the Paris Summit: to recognise the special case of SIDS and LDCs; to limit the average global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels which will require significant cuts in emissions of GHGs; to deal with all sources of GHG emissions; to be composed of an international mechanism to deal with loss and damage as an independent element of the agreement; to elevate the Polluter Pays principle; to safeguard human rights protections; to allow for the ease of access to adequate finance, technology and capacity building; and to ensure five-year periodic reviews of the international mitigation commitments (IISD, 2015).
The Hiri Declaration on Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism was adopted by the Heads of State and PIF member countries. The Heads of State and Government have committed to take 17 actions to strengthen Pacific regionalism. In line with the previous declarations, the Hiri Declaration seeks to take meaningful action to implement the same actions that focus on the significance of regional cooperation, business, trade and investment, management of oceans and resources, gender equality and sustainable development.
Samoa’s international position on climate change is shaped by the political environment surrounding climate change. The empirical aspects of international climate policy need to be considered as it operates in Samoa. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) priorities for the post-2015 agenda are spelled out in the SAMOA Pathway. The SAMOA Pathway stresses the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) as the primary international intergovernmental forum for negotiating the international response to climate change in order to protect the global climate system. Drawing on the region’s call for action, the Pacific have acknowledged the international community’s efforts to combat climate change but also recognise the inequities faced by SIDS and therefore calls upon an ethic of responsibility for climate change which deals with:
(i) Financing: to strengthen the use of national level polciies and financing mechanisms; accessing international arrangements; lack of funding for mitigations and adaptation policy; and reducing the costs related to remittances;
(ii) Capacity Building: to provide a coordinated UN system-wdie capacity building programmes for SIDS;
(iii) Technology: to access reliable, affordable, modern and environmentally sound technologies;
(iv) Institutional Support: to enhance the participation of SIDS in the decision-making processes of international financial institutions to improve the inter-regional and intra-regional cooperation and to further ensure that SIDS priorities are addressed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the High-level Political Forum (HLPF).
In summary, Samoa’s ethic of responsibility for climate change has been firmly declared in its NESP 2013-2016 as well as through their regional commitments and international obligations under the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2010; MNRE, 2013). The overall means of implementation will require effective partnerships: on partnerships, the SAMOA pathway calls for an enhanced international cooperation through North-South, South-South, SIDS-SIDS and triangular cooperation; and strengthened partnerships to ensure the engagement of all stakeholders (UNGA, 2014).
10. Has your national government taken any position on or otherwise encouraged individuals, businesses, organizations, subnational governments, or other entities that they have an ethical duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
The Government of Samoa has strong partnerships and collaborations with its agencies, civil society, NGOs and the private sector. The national government encourages the people of Samoa to take responsibility for the environment through its ongoing awareness campaigns. More specifically, the percentage of GHG emission reductions is a key indicator in the SDS 2012-2016. Although there is no express mention of an ethical duty to reduce GHG emissions, the responsibility to take climate change action is suggested through the government’s strategic priority areas and INDC.
The SDS 2012-2016 advocates for an appropriate national mitigation plan for Samoa to meet the requirements of the carbon trading scheme. In addition, the rationale behind Samoa’s INDC aligns with the SESP’s goal to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels while at the same time providing energy security. Samoa seeks to contribute to the global efforts in reducing GHG emissions and increasing access to electricity in Samoa. The monitoring and evaluation of these practical mechanisms are being developed, adopted and implemented.
The SESP supports the delivery of the SDS 2012-2016, which aims to improve the quality of life of all citizens of Samoa (MOF, 2012a). The SDS focuses widely on the increased investment in RE generation as one of the key strategic areas with broad indicators to gradually phase out fossil fuels (MOF, 2012a). For the most part, the SESP’s main components are RE and energy efficiency (MOF, 2012b). With the MOF as the primary coordinating ministry, the MNRE, EPC, SROS, private sector and Non-government organisations (NGOs) play a part in implementing the plan. The government and responsible agencies continuously emphasise the awareness of climate change and disaster risk management (DRM) at all levels as a way to understand the future climate impacts and risk reduction strategies.
The national strategic plan for the energy sector is the Samoa National Energy Policy (SNEP) (MOF, 2007). The SNEP seeks to address the fragmentation in the energy developments of Samoa and sets out the strategy for reducing Samoa’s economic vulnerability to the international oil prices (MOF, 2007). The SNEP identifies the strategic areas in the energy sector where interventions are to meet a number of targets. Specifically, the RE targets are to increase the share of mass production from RE sources to 20% by the year 2030; and, to increase the contribution of RE for energy services and supply by 20% by the year 2030 (MOF, 2007).
Samoa has strongly encouraged strategic action with the promotion of sustainable energy targets and energy efficiency. The SDS 2012-2016 has established the national strategic interventions to target the problem of fossil fuel dependence by: promoting the sustainable use of indigenous energy resources and RE technologies; promoting the partnerships with communities and energy stakeholders, especially development partners, in the development of RE programmes; exploring training opportunities to build up the capacity in RE technologies; encouraging the commercial use of RE; the RE research findings by the Scientific Organisation of Samoa (SROS); and enhancing the public knowledge and understanding of RE and its costs and benefits (MOF, 2012a).
The starting point for private sector engagement is prompted by the existence of a threat of government intervention. Indeed, when the threat of government intervention is credible; that is, when the Government of Samoa plans to regulate industry and impose legislation on polluting businesses; then the private sector will consider two uncertainties. First, the pollution reduction objectives or GHG emission reduction objectives and its effective implementation measures; and second, the content of environmental policies. As a consequence, businesses or the private sector are unable to assess their losses or gains in respect of future legislation. Firms, therefore, should take voluntary action to reduce their GHG emissions because it is less costly than the anticipated legal alternatives. If state intervention is the only stimulus for business to take climate action, the private sector, individual businesses or business coalitions will support or obstruct the imposition of environmental policies according to their expected gains and losses. It is in these circumstances that industry to government cooperation – durable partnerships – must take place in the spirit of climate change ethics and justice considerations.
11. What recommendations would you make to get the nation or civil society in the country to take ethics and justice issues seriously in climate change policy formulation?
The highest values of any society are ratified in its national Constitution. In such a system, constitutional democracies encourage the participation of society on important issues. In this case, the Government of Samoa’s political morality is enshrined in its Constitution (Government of Samoa, 1960). The Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa 1960 adopts elements of natural law, which is skewed in favour of Christian principles. The law, under this reading, conforms to morality, reason and justice (Beyleveld & Brownswood, 1986). Therefore the law is a moral phenomenon and the obligation to obey the law relates to the moral quality of the law. This jurisprudential theory guides many Pacific SIDS constitutional frameworks and in particular Samoa’s governance system. The Constitution is the supreme law of Samoa and one that entrenches a bill of rights (Government of Samoa, 1960). This presupposes the protection of rights and liberties and Samoa’s development agenda. Morality constitutes the conceptual lens through which the government and those governed view reality. More fundamentally, what is considered law and legitimate functions of government are underscored by the moral components of the Constitution of Samoa.
I propose a number of policy priorities to guide Samoa’s ethics and justice considerations:
(i) Samoa should ensure that the public are informed, aware and educated of the impacts climate change may have on their communities;
(ii) Community groups, local stakeholders or NGOs should be encouraged to participate in the planning and implementation of climate change policies;
(iii) The process of developing climate change policy should consider traditional knowledge and practices in planning for climate change impacts;
(iv) To explore strategies that moderate harm in response to expected climate change impacts;
(v) To promote cross-sector resilience by identifying climate change threats;
(vi) To encourage linkages between the government, private entities, NGOs and other durable partnerships;
(vii) To encourage planning and management that integrates climate change policy and intergenerational justice.
As a way forward, an ethic of responsibility for climate change should focus on governance (coordinating climate change and sustainable energy supply mainstreaming); adaptation (mainstreaming climate change adaptation into national development policy); and, mitigation (mainstreaming climate change mitigation into national development policy to help reduce GHG emissions in moving towards a low-carbon economy). This process is proposed so that a national strategy on climate change can integrate climate change into all state sector plans while ensuring that the Government of Samoa aligns its INDCs with the ongoing negotiations at the UNFCCC.
Samoa’s INDC will require renewed efforts in the allocation of financial, technical and institutional capacity development in order to improve its climate change adaptation technology access. Therefore, access to climate change finance is a major concern to the future socio-economic and environmental well-being of all Samoans.
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- The ADB project aims to support the government’s policy to increase electricity generation from RE sources and rehabilitate the damage to the power sector caused by major cyclones and increase the electricity sector’s resilience to future natral disasters. Three small hydropower plants on Upolu willl be rehabilitated and the construction of three new small hydropower plans will take place on Savaii. The project includes a training component for EPC on operation and maintenance (O&M) of the small hydropower plants.
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- The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) have an ongoing climate change awareness campaign through the use of publication spreads in the local newspaper and through other media options. Funding to implement energy efficiency activities from IUCN (Suva) especially for projects, which encourage non-motorised transport activities have turned into national awareness days for example, “National Energy Day” or “National Environment Week.” The aim is to disseminate information through national media avenues and to invite schools to host events focused on the environmental education.
- Savali Newspaper; Samoa Observer; Talamua media & publications; Samoa news.
Interview. (2015). Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development. Apia: Government of Samoa.
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- MSG Declaration on Environment and Climate Change (signed by members of the MSG on 30 March 2012).
- Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership 2013 (adopted by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders on 5 September 2013).
- Lifou Declaration 2015 (signed by Pacific leaders at the 3rd Oceania Summit 21 on 30 April 2015).
- At the World Summit 2005, in paragraph 155 of the World Summit Outcome Document, Heads of State and Governments mandated the ECOSOC with ensuring the follow-up of the outcomes of the major UN conferences and summits including the internationally agreed development goals; to hold Annual Ministerial-level substantive Reviews (AMRS) to appraise the progress on the functional and regional commissions and other institutions in accordance with their respective mandates. The HLPF replaced the Commissions on Sustainable Development in 2013.
- See, the preamble of the Constitution of Nauru 1968; See, principle 2 of the Constitution of Tuvalu 1978; See also, the preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu 1980.
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