PM Pushes For Grand Coalition

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called for a groundbreaking grand coalition to highlight climate change. “This requires strong and principled leadership from everyone,” he said of the approach he is
31 Mar 2017 10:30
PM Pushes For  Grand Coalition
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called for a groundbreaking grand coalition to highlight climate change.

“This requires strong and principled leadership from everyone,” he said of the approach he is pushing as president of the gobal COP23 climate change negotiations.

“Every level of government – state and local – every section of civil society and especially in this context, the real drivers of economic progress – our businesses great and small; together, with the support of billions of ordinary people around the world.

“It is time to take a stand.

“We must not step back from the undertakings we made.”

Mr Bainimarama made the remarks when he addressed United States climate leaders in the private sector at Chicago, Illinois, this week.

At the same time, US President Donald Trump did what he promised, knocking over efforts to fight climate change.

In a sweeping executive order, Mr Trump rolled back rules limiting carbon emissions and regulating fossil fuel producers.

Mr Trump explained this dramatic shift in economic terms, saying he wanted to put coal miners back to work and make manufacturing cheaper.

Mr Bainimarama said: “I don’t see myself as an advocate just for Fiji and the other Pacific Island nations, but for every vulnerable part of the world.

“And that includes the United States. The people of states like California and Florida, of New York and other coastal areas.  And of course all parts of America that we know will have to adapt their agriculture to changing weather patterns.

“I am reaching out to the governors of some of these states as vital partners in this grand coalition we are building. And I am also reaching out to corporate America – its foundations and its high net worth individuals – as equally essential components of this campaign.

“At COP23 in Bonn in November, the formal negotiations may be confined to national governments.

“But as President, I want to give equal weight to those members of the grand coalition from the private sector and civil society. I intend to spend a much greater amount of time than previous COP Presidents in the Climate Action Zone, which we intend to infuse with the Bula Spirit of Fiji.

“So I ask you all to consider joining me in Bonn in a collective demonstration of purpose and resolve.”

Mr Bainimarama told delegates: “Look around this room and you will see the power to change the world for the better. And I am here today to appeal to you all to harness this power in the cause of meeting the greatest challenge the world has ever faced.

“As incoming COP President, I ask every one of you to join me in this grand coalition to defend our collective agenda and maintain the momentum for change.

“I may come from a small country, but I have been given a huge task and I intend to fulfill it. Fully implementing the Paris Agreement is a cause worth fighting for; a mission that cannot be delayed or deterred by politics.

“For the sake of our planet and all 7.5 billion of our fellow global citizens, we must not falter.  We must prevail.

“Friends, my task as incoming president is to represent the entire world. But I bring a particular perspective to these negotiations as the leader of a nation, that with our Pacific neighbours, is bearing the brunt of climate change.

“A year ago, the biggest cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere tore into Fiji, killing 44 of our people and displacing tens of thousands of others.

“We lost a third of our GDP and our economy was only saved because Cyclone Winston spared our main tourism areas.

“But the point I want to make is that Fiji doesn’t need a lesson on climate change. The more extreme weather events and rising seas are a constant challenge; a constant threat.

“We are also doing what we can, pledging to reduce our miniscule carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. And we have offered to give permanent refuge to the entire populations of two of our nearest neighbours, Kiribati and Tuvalu, in the event of a worse-case scenario, in which they are submerged altogether.

“So, friends, we are shouldering our own responsibilities and I appeal to the rest of the world to do the same.

“I’m delighted to be in the “Windy City” among friends who share my concern about the state of our planet. And who are willing to join me in the search for practical solutions to the challenges we all face from climate change.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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