Fiji’s call for action

LAST year had a record level of carbon emissions, which makes the need for climate action urgent.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice, and changes to agriculture threatened the world’s food security.

“All consistent with the science that now tells us that 2016 was a record year for carbon emissions. All over the world, vast numbers of people are suffering — bewildered by the forces ranged against them,” said the COP23 president.

“Our job as leaders is to respond to that suffering with all means available to us. This includes our capacity to work together to identify opportunities in the transition we must make.”

Speaking to more than 1900 people in the main plenary hall of the World Conference Centre, Mr Bainimarama told the heads of each delegation represented that they must not fail their people.

He told them to use the next two weeks and the year ahead “to do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020.”

With the slogan, “Further, Faster, Together”, the Fijian presidency took centre stage as the official meetings of the COP23 began on Monday.

The spectacular opening ceremony caught the attention of local media with many asking for an explanation of the veiqaraqaravi vakavanua (traditional ceremonies of welcome) accorded to high level government officials present.

Alluding to calls for enhanced ambitions, Mr Bainimarama told world leaders to meet their commitments in full and not back away from them.

“And to commit ourselves to the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement. To cap the global average temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius over that of the pre-industrial age,” he said.

“By aiming for 1.5 degrees, we are setting ourselves a serious challenge. But it provides us with a mission. It engages our capacity for ingenuity, for organisation and sheer hard work.”

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