A battle worth fighting

Former Kiribati president and Pacific climate warrior Anote Tong was sitting at home watching his grandchildren play and thinking about their future. A future already marred by this climate phenomenon. It worries a lot of people like Mr Tong, families and communities who have witnessed and experienced the wrath of climate change and ask the inevitable question that Mr Tong asked himself, “What would become of them?”

Indeed, what will become of the future if climate change persists, if leaders refuse to accept the realities of climate change?

Kiribati, an island with a little more than 100,000 in population, is one of the heavily affected areas in terms of the impact of climate change, that there are suggestions of displacement due to rise in sea level.

Kiribati is one of many other small developing island states like Fiji succumbing to the full brunt of the impact of climate change.

The question is what would become of them? Where will our grandchildren and the future generation go?

Would we still want them to run along the same white sandy beach, to breathe the same fresh air and consume the most healthiest and nutritious meal fresh from the farm or from the sea?

Sadly though, researchers have found that at the rate at which we are going we are on the road to destruction.

The Pacific Island Development Forum has stated that our global 2020 emissions targets are not in line with either 2C or 1.5C pathways and it is more likely at 3.7C.

The increase in global temperatures has a lot of drastic implications. Sea temperature will rise affecting the marine life; the arctic and Atlantic ice will melt and will contribute to the rise in sea level causing displacement and this is in addition to the adverse weather patterns.

So what needs to be done?

We need to see commitment. We need to see urgency, we need ambition and we need action.

At the 23rd Conference of Parties in Bonn, Germany, world leaders will gather to map the way forward. Everyone will be eager to know what will come out of these meetings, the decisions and agreements that will be made.

We want to see action. There have been a lot of meetings, workshops and conferences. We want to see the big carbon emitters commit to the reduction of carbon emission. We want to leave something behind for our future generation

“I think the challenge is coming to the reality that is ahead of us. Unfortunately, we at the bottom end of the scale are crying out aloud and see whether people will come forward,” Mr Tong said.

“I have been talking about climate change for so long, I doubt that I would be able to go back with a firm concrete credible solution that I can take back to my grandchildren.

“I have a lot of grandchildren and I watch them play every day and I ask myself a question, ‘What would become of them?’

“That is the question, and so far not many have been able to answer that question and I doubt it that nothing is coming forward. This is not a negotiation, this is about our survival.”

And as we call on the world to reduce carbon emission we at the same time need to look at our very own contribution to minimising the impact of climate change.

First and foremost, Fiji does not have a carbon policy where the private sector and other stakeholders are mandated to release their carbon footprints and proactive measures that will be taken to reduce carbon emission.

There has not been a lot of emphasis on reforestation and yet logging licences are still being given.

We’re still importing diesel powered vehicles into the country. We still have ships that are diesel-powered. Replanting of mangroves needs to be further encouraged.

We need to minimise electricity consumption, turn off unnecessary power-points and invest more in solar-powered lights.

Avoid overfishing — fish what is enough for consumption and not for economical greed. Our marine ecosystem needs to breathe. Organic farming is the way forward to food security, do away with chemicals that kill the soil’s nutrients.

When you cut a tree, plant a new one, it’s as simple as that. It’s these little things that count and matter in the long run.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga spoke words of truth that really hit home when he said, “If there is no future for us, there’s nothing for them.”

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