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Fiji Time: 9:29 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Calls for climate change action

Repeka Nasiko
Tuesday, July 09, 2013

ATTORNEY-General and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has urged developed countries to stop talking about the issues of climate change and start taking action.

While opening the first joint regional meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Nadi yesterday, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there was a need for a concerted global effort to tackle the problem before it was too late for Pacific Island countries.

"We have to work together with other nations to exert influence in global forums such as the United Nations to try to focus attention on the need for immediate action to radically reduce emissions," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"Because whatever the cause of climate change - man-made or cyclical - there's no denying that the planet is warming and the most prudent course of action is for the international community to try to arrest it by setting binding emission targets.

"That warming, of course, is affecting us here in the Pacific more than most."

He said islands such as Tuvalu and Kiribati were at risk as ice caps melted and sea levels rose to unprecedented heights.

"Some of these countries are already preparing for a doomsday scenario in which their islands are eventually submerged and their populations have to be moved to higher ground elsewhere.

"As many of you will know, Kiribati has actually bought 6000 acres of land in Vanua Levu - Fiji's second biggest island - to guarantee its food security as its own arable land is swamped by rising tides.

"It's a sobering thought indeed when we start talking about the need to prepare for a scenario in which the nation of Kiribati largely exists within the borders of Fiji."

He also highlighted Fiji's experiences on the impacts of climate change.

"Last year, Fiji declared a state of disaster over flooding and landslides that killed at least six people and displaced many thousands more.

"Over 8000 people sought refuge in evacuation centres organised by government through the National Disaster Management Office.

"The impact of flooding was especially felt here in Nadi and nearby areas in Western Fiji.

"Roads were inundated, the water supply was severed, communications and power were disrupted, farms and the food supply were damaged, shops and schools were closed - every aspect of life was affected."

The opening ceremony was attended by Margareta Wahlstrom, the special representative of the UN secretary general for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga Samiu Vaipulu.

The joint meeting is being held at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa in Nadi and will end on Thursday.