Fiji Backed By EU: PM

Fiji will lead the charge, backed by the European Union, in the November World Climate Summit in Paris, to persuade the global community to sign up to binding carbon emission
29 May 2015 10:10
Fiji Backed By EU: PM

Fiji will lead the charge, backed by the European Union, in the November World Climate Summit in Paris, to persuade the global community to sign up to binding carbon emission reductions.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said this in his address as the new chairman of the 71st ESCAP Session in Bangkok, Thailand, yesterday.

“We are very encouraged that in this struggle, we are not alone. And I thank the nations of the European Union, in particular, for their insistence on a 40 per cent cut in global emissions by 2030,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“I have already remarked that the EU member countries are proving to be our true allies in this struggle and not some of our bigger neighbours. Again, I make no apologies for this. Because we in the Pacific judge our friends not by their words but by their deeds. And we need the international community to stand shoulder to shoulder with us if we are to have any hope against this existentialist threat.”

He said Fiji and the other Pacific nations welcomed engagement with any nation, organisation or individual “who values us as friends and is concerned for the welfare and prosperity of our peoples and the protection of the ocean we call our home.”

“In the case of Fiji, our differences with Australia and New Zealand that saw us suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum encouraged us to seek a fresh avenue to engage with the region and the rest of the world.

“And so we joined our island neighbours in developing a new regional organisation called the Pacific Islands Development Forum or PIDF. Unlike the PIF – which is confined to Governments and dominated by Australia and New Zealand, two countries that are not Pacific Small Island Developing States – the hallmark of the PIDF is inclusiveness.

“We have forged a grand coalition of governments, the private sector and civil society groups, which in so many instances represent the real voice of the grassroots. Everyone has now been brought into the room to discuss the challenges we all face. And by far the most important of these is the issue of sustainable development, which also happens to be the reason we are all here today.

“Green Growth in our Blue Economy” – the sustainable use of resources on both land and at sea – has become our catchcry. And we have been joined not only by this coalition of Pacific peoples. We have gone beyond the region to expand our membership to any nation or organisation that wants to join us in the quest for sustainable development of the Pacific Islands region.”

“We are extremely gratified that apart from a growing number of regional Governments – including my fellow leaders here – we have attracted a host of other nations great and small to also join us. Whether it is China, the European Union, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey or Argentina – to name but a few.

“There are some factors way beyond our control. And I know I will be speaking for my fellow Pacific Island leaders here today when I say that the greatest of these is the threat posed to us all by rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“We are all suffering in the Pacific already to a lesser or greater extent by the encroaching seas. In Fiji we’ve already had to move some villages out of harm’s way and have identified more than 600 other communities that are under threat and need close attention.

“Yet our own challenges pale into insignificance compared to those of some of our neighbours. His Excellency the President of the Marshall Islands presides over a nation that will simply disappear altogether if the current projections of climate scientists are accepted. And two other nations, Kiribati and Tuvalu, will also sink beneath the waves.

“It is a looming catastrophe that we are utterly powerless as Pacific Islanders to avert. Because it is not our industries that are pumping out the carbon emissions that the scientists tell us are causing global warming and the ice caps to melt. It is the industries of the developed world.

“Our own carbon footprints are totally insignificant, even though in Fiji, we are making carbon emission reductions an important part of our Green Growth Framework and future development plans.

“It is the carbon footprint of the developed nations that are the problem. And the onus must be on them to act and act immediately to reduce those emissions and give those of us in the Pacific a fighting chance. In the case of these three nations, a chance to survive.

“I have been extremely critical of certain of our neighbours and especially Australia for dragging its feet and refusing to sign up to the binding cuts on carbon emissions that we are told are needed to avert this catastrophe.

“I have caused a certain amount of upset in official circles for saying that Australia and others are part of a coalition of the selfish. But I do not resile from this description when so much for us in the Pacific Islands is at stake.”



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