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PM Tells: Fear For Suva

Prime Minister and incoming COP23 president, Voreqe Bainimarama, yesterday gave a chilling account of what will happen if steps are not taken now to counter climate change. He addressed stakeholders
04 Jul 2017 09:13
PM Tells: Fear For Suva
Particpants of the Pacific Climate Activists Standing March of Hope held at Albert Park, Suva, on July 3, 2017. Photo: Mere Satakala

Prime Minister and incoming COP23 president, Voreqe Bainimarama, yesterday gave a chilling account of what will happen if steps are not taken now to counter climate change.

He addressed stakeholders and high level delegates from the Pacific during the inaugural Climate Action Pacific Partnership Event held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

“The scientists are now telling us that with the disappearance of the summer ice around the North Pole and the eventual melting of the Arctic and Greenland, the global average sea rise would be a terrifying seven metres. Which means this room would be flooded to the ceiling,” he said.

“Much of Suva, as we know it, would be under water, and so would large parts of every coastal city in the world. And given that 80 per cent of the world’s cities are on coastlines, the global economy would be devastated. And along with that, the living standards of people throughout the world.”

Participants at the the Pacific Climate Activists Standing March of Hope held at Albert Park, Suva yesterday. Photo: Mere Satakala

Participants at the the Pacific Climate Activists Standing March of Hope held at Albert Park, Suva yesterday. Photo: Mere Satakala

This grave warning from Mr Bainimarama came after revelations that countries were falling short of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

“The current NDCs fall well short of what is needed to achieve the objective of the Paris Agreement – again – to keep global temperatures well below two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees,” he said.

“In fact, even if all of the commitments are honoured, the global temperature will be on track to be just under three degrees. And this would be a disaster for the whole planet,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“It would mean that Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands are doomed, along with a great many other atolls as well. It would intensify the extreme weather events like Cyclone Winston and Cyclone Pam that have caused so much havoc for Pacific nations. And it would make it virtually impossible for our agriculture to be able to continue to feed our people,” he warned.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama addressing regional leaders on June 3, 2017 during the Climate Action Pacific Partnership Event at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. Photo: Office of the Attorney-General

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama addressing regional leaders on June 3, 2017 during the Climate Action Pacific Partnership Event at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. Photo: Office of the Attorney-General

On a similar note, he has assured the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu that Fiji would stand with them as they face imminent relocation because of rising sea-levels.

“And even if the battle to keep your islands above the water is lost, we will continue to stand shoulder- to-shoulder with you. Fiji has offered to give permanent refuge to the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu, our closest neighbours under threat. And we expect the United States to do the same for the people of the Marshall Islands – who share your plight – because of their long-standing historical ties,” he said as the room erupted with applause.

He also addressed the importance he was placing on his role as COP23 president fighting the fight on behalf of the planet.

“So to anyone who questions my own commitment to making this a priority I say: What would you do when the survival of your capital city is at stake, much of your own country and the very existence of some of your neighbours?

“That is why I am doing what I have to do. That is why Fiji has taken on the COP presidency.

“To show leadership and guide the world towards a solution to undoubtedly the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.”

Mr Bainimarama has also sent a strong message to the leaders of G20 – Group of Major Economies – including US President Donald Trump – who will gather for their summit in the German city of Hamburg later this week.

“To the leaders of the G20:  We have not caused this crisis, your nations have. As our opening prayer this morning put it, we have trodden lightly on the earth whereas you have trodden heavily,” he said.

“And those carbon footprints pose a threat to us in the Pacific and to all humanity,” he said.

“The vulnerable nations expect you to genuinely work towards the objectives you agreed to in the Paris Agreement – to keep the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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