Paris climate change pact ‘not enough to save us’, warns Fiji PM

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama closing UN Oceans Conference… “Paris Agreement not enough to save us”. Image: The Ocean Conference

By Nasik Swami in Suva

Current national contributions by countries to the Paris Agreement on climate change are not enough to save the Pacific, says Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“We have to try to persuade the rest of the world to embrace even more ambitious action in the years to come, because we all know that even the current national contributions to the Paris Agreement are not enough to save us,” he said, addressing Pacific leaders as the UN Oceans Conference came to a close in New York last week.

As the incoming president of COP23, Bainimarama called on the Pacific and its leaders to stand by him and demand decisive action, as climate change was an issue of critical importance to the region’s collective future.

“I want your input. I need your input. And I want every Pacific leader beside me as we demand decisive action to protect the security of our people and those in other vulnerable parts of the world.”

Bainimarama also outlined his worry that America’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement may also encourage other nations to either back away from the commitments they have made or not implement them with the same resolve.

“We are all, quite naturally, bitterly disappointed by the decision of the Trump Administration to abandon the Paris Agreement,” he said.

“Not only because of the loss of American leadership on this issue of critical importance to the whole world, but because it may also encourage other nations to either back away from the commitments they have made or not implement them with the same resolve.

“But something wonderful is also happening. The American decision is galvanising opinion around the world in support of decisive climate action.

‘Widespread rebellion’
“Other nations and blocs like China, the European Union and India are stepping forward to assume the leadership that Donald Trump has abandoned. And within America itself, there is a widespread rebellion against the decision the President has taken.”

Bainimarama said dozens of American state governors and city mayors were banding together with leaders of the private sector, civil society and ordinary citizens to redouble their efforts to meet this challenge.

“So while the Trump Administration may have abandoned its leadership on climate change, the American people haven’t.

“Next week, I will go to California to meet the Democrat Governor Jerry Brown and sign up to the climate action initiative that he is spearheading. I am also in contact with his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shares Governor Brown’s commitment.

“The point is that on both sides of American politics, we have friends who are standing with us in this struggle. And I am inviting both Governor Brown and the famous ‘Terminator’ to come to our pre-COP gathering in Fiji in October, where we hope they will join us in a gesture of solidarity with the vulnerable just before COP23 itself in Bonn the following month.”

The Paris Agreement, which Fiji has ratified, sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Nasik Swami is a reporter with The Fiji Times

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