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Fragile islands

Nasik Swami
Friday, June 09, 2017

THE current national contributions by respective countries to the Paris Agreement are not enough to save the Pacific.

That's the view of the incoming president of COP 23, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who has called on Pacific leaders to stand by him and demand for decisive action.

The Paris Agreement, which Fiji had ratified sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees celsius.

Addressing Pacific leaders at the United Nation Oceans Conference in New York yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said it was an absolute imperative for all Pacific leaders that the Paris Agreement of 2015 was fully implemented.

"And that we try to persuade the rest of the world to embrace even more ambitious action in the years to come, because we all know that even the current national contributions to the Paris Agreement are not enough to save us," he said.

Mr Bainimarama said the implementation of the agreement was not about him or Fiji, but about every Pacific leader, every Pacific nation, civil society group, private sector body, everyone who represented the ordinary men, women and children in the Pacific on this issue of critical importance to their collective future.

"I want your input. I need your input. And I want every Pacific leader beside me as we demand decisive action to protect the security of our people and those in other vulnerable parts of the world."

Mr Bainimarama also outlined his worry that America's decision to abandon the Paris Agreement may also encourage other nations to either back away from the commitments they have made or not implement them with the same resolve.

"We are all, quite naturally, bitterly disappointed by the decision of the Trump Administration to abandon the Paris Agreement. Not only because of the loss of American leadership on this issue of critical importance to the whole world, but because it may also encourage other nations to either back away from the commitments they have made or not implement them with the same resolve.

"But something wonderful is also happening. The American decision is galvanising opinion around the world in support of decisive climate action.

"Other nations and blocs like China, the European Union and India are stepping forward to assume the leadership that Donald Trump has abandoned. And within America itself, there is a widespread rebellion against the decision the President has taken."

Mr Bainimaram said dozens of American state governors and city mayors were banding together with leaders of the private sector, civil society and ordinary citizens to redouble their efforts to meet this challenge.

"So while the Trump Administration may have abandoWned its leadership on climate change, the American people haven't.

"Next week, I will go to California to meet the Democrat Governor Jerry Brown and sign up to the climate action initiative that he is spearheading. I am also in contact with his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shares Governor Brown's commitment.

"The point is that on both sides of American politics, we have friends who are standing with us in this struggle. And I am inviting both Governor Brown and the famous Terminator to come to our Pre-COP gathering in Fiji in October, where we hope they will join us in a gesture of solidarity with the vulnerable just before COP23 itself in Bonn the following month."

What is Paris Agreement:

- The Paris Agreement is a bridge between today's policies and climate-neutrality before the end of the century;

- It is a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;

- A total of 195 countries are a signatory to the Paris Agreement and

- The agreement aims to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

Source: United Nations.

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