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Recent Natural Disasters Vindicate PM’s Position on Climate Change

Recent Natural Disasters Vindicate PM’s Position on Climate Change
April 22
14:26 2016

Fijian victims do not want to relive the nightmare and the horrors of Cyclone Winston. Winston was followed by Cyclone Zena. The associated floods caused more pain and misery.

Still fresh from this terrible experience, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama was able to speak with power and authority to the media in New York about adverse weather events caused by climate change and their negative impact on small island economies of the Pacific region. Fiji and other small island states are particularly vulnerable because of their geographical location.

Cyclone Winston brought home to Fijians the grim reality of climate change-induced weather events.

Mr Bainimarama has been on a mission before Cyclone Winston to highlight the threat. He has been vindicated. It did not come as a surprise. We had been warned it would happen. And it did with devastating consequences. Winston killed 44 Fijians and injuring dozens more. Up to 40,000 homes, 229 schools and other public buildings and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. The damage bill estimated by the World Bank is around $1billion (FJ$2 bn).

Mr Bainimarama’s message is clear to the global community. We need to do more to reduce our carbon emission to slow down global warming and sea level rise.

Fiji is committed to tackling the causes of climate change.

It says Fiji will make a 30 per cent reduction in our carbon emissions by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal but it reflects our total commitment.

Mr Bainimarama pointed out in Paris, this was a huge commitment for a nation of our size and development because our own emissions are a minute proportion of the global output – 0.004 per cent.

Although we are not responsible for causing the problems we now face, we are setting an example to the more affluent and industrial countries who created them in the first place.

It means, according to Mr Bainimarama, that over the next 14 years we have to reduce our carbon emissions by one third. And he says this will be done by boosting our use of renewable energy such as hydro and solar.

Fiji will be one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement and is calling on other nations to do the same.

It’s a step in the right direction. But it is not enough.

Mr Bainimarama has challenged other countries to follow him.

The Paris Agreement set a 2-degree cap on carbon emissions. Mr Bainimarama wants it reduced to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

It was one of the key points of our Suva Declaration at the end of the last gathering of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Suva.

  Winston may not be the last of its type to visit our shores. Scientists have said that  extreme weather events are building up in our region.

Last year Cyclone Pam left a trail of destruction in Vanuatu. People there are still recovering from the devastation.

That’s why Mr Bainimarama’s crusade requires everyone’s support. It is a moral obligation especially for those who have created this frightening situation for us.




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