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Editorial: Keeping our focus on our climate change battle

Editorial: Keeping our focus on our climate change battle
May 05
16:23 2018

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is on his way to Bonn, Germany, to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

It’s part of his responsibilities as the president of COP23 to ensure that what was agreed in Bonn last November is implemented successfully.

This will continue until he hands over the reins in November to Poland as the new president for COP24.

Mr Bainimarama is hoping that when the handover takes place Fiji will have placed the climate change battle on a better and firmer platform for the future.

High-Level Climate Champion Inia Seruiratu, the minister responsible for National Disaster Management, recently attended a climate change conference in Bonn, continuing Fiji’s advocacy on climate action.

These meetings are crucial in reinforcing Fiji’s position on climate change.

A Fijian initiative, the Talanoa Dialogue, was launched in Bonn in November as a form of consultative and facilitative discussion to serve as an initial stocktaking exercise.

This is seen as important in the build-up to the full global stocktaking in 2023 in preparation for a new round of climate commitments known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) in 2025.

That is why Fiji’s term as COP23 president has a pivotal role in helping to achieve these targets.

In other words we must maintain the momentum started in Bonn in November.

The questions being asked now are:

1) Where are we?

2) Where do we want to go?

3) How do we get there?

The Climate Change literature makes it crystal clear that the central goal of the Paris Agreement is to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible and to contain the rise in average global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to achieve a rise no greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Fijian Presidency has called for the formation of a Grand Coalition to build momentum to achieve the more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees and to reduce net carbon emissions to zero as soon as possible.

The Talanoa Dialogue consists of a preparatory (January-December) and a political phase (COP24).

The presidencies of COP23 and COP24 lead both phases of the Dialogue and co-chair the political phase at COP24.

We are in the preparatory phase now when our leadership is required.

With our own general election looming and Opposition political parties going into full swing with their campaigns, it’s a challenging time for Mr Bainimarama because he has to focus on our international obligations.

But he will be buoyed by the latest Fiji Sun-Razor opinion poll, which has got him and his FijiFirst party in commanding lead.

Sixty-three per cent of the 1000 people polled want him to lead the country for the second consecutive term.

Climate change is set to become an election issue because of its impact on people’s lives.

While Mr Bainimarama has been focusing on increasing its profile on the international stage, the public awareness here has also risen.

Climate change has come alive through our recent experiences on wild weather events.

The devastating experiences remind us of our vulnerability and the vulnerability of small island states.

Mr Bainimarama was spot on when he said: “Unless the world acts decisively to begin addressing the greatest challenge of our age, then the Pacific, as we know it, is doomed.”

Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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