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Pacific Forum troika calls for stronger ambition on Paris climate commitments
02:03 am GMT+12, 14/12/2020, Fiji

The three key leaders to the Pacific Islands forum have all made strong calls for the world to get back on track with the 1.5 degree pathway commitment of the Paris Agreement.

In their Kainaki to COP26 high level roundtable on Friday 11 December, Forum Leaders turned out in force to make the call for stronger climate ambition, and reinforce the 2019 message of their Kainaki 2 Declaration Call for Urgent Climate Change Action Now.

The session convened to mark global momentum around five years since the Paris Agreement, and 12 months to the delayed COP26, the Forum Chair, Tuvalu's Prime Minister Kausea Natano asked the high level gathering “Five years on (from Paris), we must now ask ourselves: are we making the necessary policy and behavioural change to keep us on the 1.5 degree pathway? From the perspective of the Blue Pacific, the answer is simple: no, we are not.”

“We must now change this course,” he urged, “We must take the necessary action. And we must protect our people and planet.”

Latest scientific evidence shows that we are already at 1.2 degree Celsius, said the Forum Chair. “This is causing our seas to rise, our oceans to warm, and is increasing the intensity of extreme weather events inflicting damage and destruction on our peoples, our ecosystems, economies and countries. Indeed, last year alone, disasters cost the world $150 billion, and yet, carbon dioxide levels are at record highs – and rising. In 2020, the upward trend continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Current policies and actions put us on a trend to exceed 1.5 degree Celsius by as early as 2030 and reach a catastrophic 3 degrees Celsius or more by the end of this century.”

His calls for urgent climate change action were echoed in follow up statements from other Forum leaders, including Fiji, the host of next year's Leaders meeting.

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, former COP chair, has dominated strong and straight talk on the climate stage. At the Kainaki roundtable, he did not sway from that, saying five years on from COP 21 and the Paris Agreement of 2015, "The world is still warming at an astonishing rate.

He warned if high-polluting countries do not curtail their greenhouse gas emissions and commit to meaningful net-zero targets, “we are well on track to reach 1.5 degrees by 2030, 2 degrees by 2050 and up to 5 degrees by 2100.”

“Some people compare the Pacific’s story to that of the canary in the coal mine. In that analogy, the canary is lowered into the mine to check for dangerous gas levels –– if the canary came out dead, the rest of the miners knew not to enter. I refuse to let Fijians and our Pacific Island sisters and brothers be some sacrificial canary for coal-burning countries and high-emitting companies,” PM Bainimarama said.

“We must not stand idly by and watch the world’s most vulnerable countries suffer, only to warn other wealthier nations that their own fate will soon follow. This is not just Fiji’s climate emergency –– it is the world’s emergency. The high-emission countries simply have to face facts. We all depend on each other. Climate complacency by one will harm all others.”

Wrapping up the roundtable event, Nauru President Lionel Aingimea said "We must act with conviction, we must raise our ambition. We must match ambition with action."

“As we pass the five year anniversary of the Paris Agreement 12 December, keep in your mind and in your heart one critical message from the blue Pacific.  We need ambitious climate change action, now.  Not five, ten or 15 years into the future, but immediately if we are to secure our children’s future," he stated noting "this generation of world leaders, of business leaders, of citizens has the opportunity to make the necessary policy and behavioural change to protect our planet and way of life. All countries without caveats must take decisive and transformative action to reduce global emissions and ensure at- scale mitigation adaptation support for those countries that need it.”

Like other Pacific leaders, the Nauru President said COVID-19 must not be a reason to delay action but rather used as an opportunity to reset our global development agenda “to one that is climate- smart and leaves no one behind.”

“As we look towards COP 26, next November, we must deliver revised enhanced NDCs and mid- century low emissions development strategies consistent with the 1.5 degrees pathway. We must achieve simplified access to climate finance in the global finance commitment of 100 billion per year. We must ensure dedicated financing for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts.

“And finally, we must progress work on the ocean -climate nexus under the UNFCCC to deliver tangible and meaningful outcomes that are expected by our people.  As one blue Pacific, we’re maintaining our collective solidarity.  With your support our dialogue partners and special guests, we can drive the momentum on ocean climate change action now and deliver the 1.5 degrees Celsius pathway,” he said.

Not all Forum nations spoke at the roundtable. The live streamed event did not feature any position statement from Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Tonga.


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