Signing Paris Agreement Momentous Day For World

The following is the full text of PM Voreqe Bainimarama’s statement at the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Friday, April 22, 2016.   The Secretary
24 Apr 2016 09:10
Signing Paris Agreement Momentous Day For World
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The following is the full text of PM Voreqe Bainimarama’s statement at the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Friday, April 22, 2016.


The Secretary General of the United Nations,

Heads of State and Government,


Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good morning/ afternoon to you all.


Fiji, first to ratify agreement, first to experience climate change-induced extreme weather event I stand before you as the leader of the first nation in the world to have approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement and to lodge the ratification instruments.

So this is a proud day for Fiji as well as a momentous day for the global community as a whole.

I also stand before you as the leader of a nation that has been among the first since Paris to experience the full force of an extreme weather event attributed to climate change.

Nine weeks ago, the biggest cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere slammed into Fiji and devastated a significant portion of the country.

Tropical Cyclone Winston killed 44 Fijians and injured dozens more.

It damaged or destroyed up to 40,000 homes, 229 schools and other public buildings and infrastructure. And it left us with an all up damage bill estimated at around one billion US dollars.

Excellencies, ladies and gentleman, I want to warmly thank our many friends in the world who came to our assistance.

But I also make a heartfelt plea to you all on behalf of the Fijian people and the citizens of small and vulnerable developing states everywhere.


Prospect of single climatic event destroying progress is real

We desperately need you to side with us not only to arrest the current state of global warming but to help us adapt to the sea level rises and extreme weather events associated with climate change.

Do not abandon us to the terrible fate that awaits us through no fault of our own.

The very real prospect that a single climatic event can destroy all the progress we are making to build strong economies and improve the lives of our people.

In Fiji’s case, we were fortunate this time that Winston cut a swathe through only parts of the country, sparing our main tourism areas and our principal source of revenue.

But it is only a matter of time before the destructive winds and flooding return.

And were a cyclone to score a direct hit on the whole of Fiji, all that we have worked so hard to achieve could be lost within hours; a set-back taking many years to reverse; a setback that would give us little or no chance of being able to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.


Paris Agreement positive but not enough

Excellencies, ladies and Ggntlemen, what we agreed to achieve together in Paris is a positive first step. But it is not enough.

We are alarmed to hear the scientists tell us that capping global warming at 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels will not save us.

So I also appeal to you to make this merely the beginning of a process of deeper cuts in carbon emissions.

We in the Pacific are seeking a new cap of 1.5 degrees Celsius as part of our Suva Declaration at the last gathering of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in the Fijian capital.

Even this may not be enough given some of the more dire scientific warnings.

But we commend the Suva Declaration to you all as a vital next step for the global community as we confront the biggest challenge of our time.


Climate Change adaptation funding arrangement must change to assist smaller, vulnerable nations

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I also appeal to the global community for a much sharper focus on assisting small and vulnerable nations to build their resilience to climate change. To future proof us for the terrifying new era ahead.

The present arrangements for funding climate change adaptation are impeding our ability to gain access to appropriate financial arrangements.

And unless these changes are made, we have little chance of meeting the challenge of protecting our economies and protecting our people.


Time is running out; we must look beyond Paris

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, the Fijian people know more than most that time is running out.  We owe it to ourselves and to future generations not only to implement the Paris Agreement but to go beyond it. For our children’s sake and our planet’s future.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

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