COP21: What will become of us? – a message from young i-Kiribati girl


Report by Samisoni Pareti in Paris

A young Pacific Islander’s plea for world leaders to help save her island nation from the impacts of climate change featured prominently in United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s address before government ministers and negotiators at the COP21 in Paris.

“In all my travels as Secretary-General, I have talked to young people, and I have been inspired by them. In Kiribati which faces being inundated by rising seas, a young girl named Tamauri asked, ‘What will become of us? What can the United Nations do for us?’

“Yesterday I met four young Norwegian scientist explorers who visited the Arctic this year. These young boys and girls have seen the rapidly melting ice, and they are sounding the alarm to the world.

“They appealed for this conference to succeed. One of them, a young woman named Erika, said: ‘We are the future. Your decisions today will be our future.’ Her colleague, Johanne said: ‘We challenge you to promise to put children first when you are making climate decisions.’

“So today I speak for Tamauri, Erika, Johanne, and all the young people of this world.

“I say to you that your decisions can lay the foundation for a sustainable future where both people and planet can thrive. Your work here this week can help eradicate poverty, spark a clean energy revolution and provide jobs, opportunities and hope for tomorrow. There can be no mistaking the peril before our eyes. But far more than that, we can see the new world that can be ours. I call on all ministers and negotiators to cooperate, united by common purpose and common sense to secure our common home and shared future.

“I count on your leadership and wise decisions for humanity.”

Two leaders
Two Pacific leaders shared the podium with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at COP21 this morning.

Addressing the world negotiations for a new climate change agreement for the second time, Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu said Tuvalu would not settle for a “communication agreement, but for an implementation agreement”.

Nothing less than an ambitious, legally binding agreement is what his island nation will go for, the Tuvalu leader told this morning’s session at COP21. Any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will spell the total demise of his island nation as well as that of other low lying islands in the world, he said.

“Fear is like this big whale in the room,” said PM Sopoaga. “I call you on to rise above your fears for we will perish if we have fear. Save Tuvalu to save the world.”

Today was the first time for the Kingdom of Tonga to address COP21, where Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni called on the world community to liberate the island kingdom from the impacts of climate change.

Adaptation works absorb 30 per cent of the Kingdom’s overseas direct aid, and increasingly like other islands in the Pacific, Tonga is being exposed to monster tropical cyclones and constant coastal land loss although its contributions to global carbon emissions are negligible.

Ministers of UNFCCC member states takeover the negotiations from today. They will begin their negotiations on texts that are put in brackets in the Paris Agreement draft that has been prepared for them by their officials. Text in brackets indicate non-agreement by the parties, and ones that require further negotiations.

The Pacific islands’ key demands for a below 1.5 degree Celsius temperature rise target and a stand- alone loss and damage mechanism are both bracketed under the draft Paris Agreement, and ministers need to agree on a text by Friday this week.

Samisoni Pareti is chief editor of Islands Business Magazine.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9511


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