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Act now to save islands, PM tells Richer Countries

Nemani Delaibatiki SUVA Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called on industrialised countries to act now and save small island states from disappearing. Speaking at COP21 in Paris yesterday, he said
02 Dec 2015 09:49
Act now to save islands, PM tells Richer Countries
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Nemani Delaibatiki

SUVA

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called on industrialised countries to act now and save small island states from disappearing.

Speaking at COP21 in Paris yesterday, he said it would require courage and it would require difficult choices.

“But from Fiji’s perspective, there is only one choice facing every nation this week, one decision that we all have to make.

“It is whether to side with what I have called the coalition of the selfish on climate change – those nations bereft of vision, obsessed with short-term economic gain and betraying the long-term interests of their people. Or to side with us in the coalition for action on climate change – those nations led by men and women who are enlightened, bold and accept the irrefutable evidence. And who have the long -term interests of both their people at heart and the long terms interests of the planet we all call home. Planet Earth. Our only home, which as Pacific Islanders, we appeal to every nation, to help us preserve and protect.

“We have a stark choice in the coming days. To seize the moment and save our common home – Planet Earth. Or blunder into an age of soaring temperatures, searing droughts, punishing storms and vast areas of the world submerged. As well as creating a whole new category of the dispossessed – climate refugees. The people of entire nations, in some cases, having to find new homes.

“I call on the community of nations to accentuate the positives of change with their people, not the negatives. And rather than turn a blind eye to the crisis we face, confront it head on. For governments to patiently explain to their people that there is no option other than to take radical action on carbon emissions now – however painful – to avoid even more pain further on.

“Every Small Island Developing State and low-lying area of the world is threatened. Yet we in the Pacific seem destined to suffer the most. This crisis includes the loss of three nations – Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. Members of the United Nations that will simply slip beneath the waves altogether. Living on only in the memories of their people in climate exile elsewhere and on old maps of a world that no longer exists.

“As I keep saying, never in the entire sweep of human history has the Pacific been so threatened. Not from the guns and diseases of our colonisers. Not from war in the Pacific nor the testing of nuclear weapons – all of which we endured last century – but from the sea. Rising slowly as the icecaps melt and the average global temperature climbs because of the carbon emissions of the industrialised nations.

“I have another message today – an invitation to those of you who think this is some distant threat to come to the Pacific and witness what I am about the tell you with your own eyes. The nightmare scenario is already unfolding. And not only on low-lying coral atolls like the nations I have mentioned but on mountainous volcanic islands such as those in Fiji.

“So we haven’t caused this crisis. The blame lies squarely with the industrialised and emerging nations. Carbon emissions spewing from their factories. From the energy they burn. The cars they drive. The planes they travel in.

“It is their lifestyles that should rightly change, not ours. And my message is that the industrialised world has a moral obligation to make that change. To refrain from putting the health of their economies, the wealth they generate from selling or using fossil fuels and the jobs of their workers before our very survival. They should also realise that the sooner they refigure their economies to wean themselves off carbon, the better they will be. Because they will be putting their nations firmly on course for a sustainable future instead of merely delaying the inevitable day of reckoning.”

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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