Bainimarama: Leave politics aside, be assertive in fight against climate change

Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama speaking to national and regional leaders at the opening plenary of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, California today. Picture: SUPPLIED

FIJI’S Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today called on world leaders to leave politics aside, show courage, determination and be more assertive in their efforts at home to fight climate change.

Mr Bainimarama was speaking to national and regional leaders at the opening plenary of the Global Climate Action Summit.

He did not mince his words when he appealed directly to the national and regional leaders attending the event and around the world.

“We were elected to lead, not to pander, not to follow, and not to hold up a wet finger to the wind. So let’s lead,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“Ask yourself,” he said: ‘If I could solve this climate crisis knowing that it would come at the cost of my political career, would I do it?’ As far as I am concerned, there is only one answer.”

He once again highlighted that the current national plans to reduce carbon emission, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, were inadequate.

“The levels of ambition in our national plans need to be ramped up because we are not on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement,” he said.

“Loss of land, degradation of our oceans, extreme weather and the other certain effects of warming will rob us of community, culture and livelihood.

“So there is no hiding from the consequences, but there are ways to help shape our own destiny. We need to help people embrace that hope.”

Mr Bainimarama also reminded the audience of the importance of the talanoas that were being held around the world as a means of ramping up every country’s ambition to combat climate change.

He stressed that the talanoa was “not just talk”.

“The talanoas being held around the world are producing thousands of good ideas and a torrent of valuable information that can put us back on track,” he said.

“Talanoa is storytelling for a purpose. And the stories we’ve heard in yesterday’s Talanoa – and the scores of others that have taken place around the world – aren’t just talk, they’re tools.

“Tools that can be used by political leaders to increase climate action at the national level.”

Led by California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, the Global Climate Action Summit has brought together leaders of government, business, Labour, finance, philanthropy, science, research and civil society to San Francisco, California, for three days of high-level talks on all aspects of climate change.

The conference is designed to share developments and perspectives in order to encourage a more robust global response to the climate-change crisis.