EDITORIAL: By the Post-Courier editors
Prime Minister James Marape has defended the massive cost of sending a 62-strong delegation to the COP26 Climate Summit in Scotland as “justified”. However, following a controversy over the K5.8 million (NZ$2.03 million) bill for the travel late last week, the Post-Courier responds with this editorial.
Prime Minister James Marape told the media yesterday that the gains from the country’s attendance at the current COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, will far outweigh the cost of attending.
But if we are being true to the essence of COP, are we really there to find solutions to climate change?
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Marape said “the benefits from COP26 will outweigh the cost” in direct response to this newspaper questioning the decision to send a 62-member delegation to the current 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference — that is the long version of COP26 for those who have been wondering.
The Post-Courier, through sources it considers reliable, found that the trip while regionally and globally important, involved sending one of the largest delegations ever assembled by this or any other country to a global climate meet.
Also disconcerting was the fact that this would no doubt have to have cost a fortune – this is after taking into account the usual accommodation, logistics, travelling allowances and all the other bells and whistles that go with such grand displays of Papua New Guinean interest.
Now, Marape has come back with a rather lengthy statement informing the media and thus our consumers of the reasons why the large delegation to Scotland was warranted.
His firm assurance to us is basically that PNG will reap the harvest from this COP26 meet and that naysayers and soothsayers alike should not worry about the costs involved in the country’s participation at the climate event.
PM’s stand on COP26 meeting
That is our Prime Minister’s stand on the matter and for all intents and purposes we are bound to accept it for what it is and give him and our government the benefit of the doubt.
Marape has told us that a COP26 outcomes report and correlating implementation matrix shall be made known to the public in the near future and we shall hold him to his word.
But what concerns us as a newspaper for the people, is the fact that the international community is abuzz with disdain towards the current and on-going COP26 climate meet that PNG seems so interested in.
It would seem while we as a country are in Glasgow for the good of the nation, we are missing the very essence of what the climate meeting is all about.
All major news agencies around the world have reported that COP26 cannot in good conscience hold any real representative climate change talks because most countries that are most affected by climate change remain absent this year.
CNN reported over the weekend that the “Most Affected People and Areas regions” (MAPA), have a distinct lack of advocacy at this COP26.
A third of Pacific islands have announced they are unable to send senior delegations for the first time in COP history.
Small nations least responsible
These nations, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), are the least responsible for climate change — but are some of the most impacted on.
And their voices are missing in Glasgow.
Only four Pacific island nations are sending their leaders, Fiji, Tuvalu, Palau and good old PNG.
The rest either have limited or no representation, largely due to COVID-19 restrictions in the region.
It is important that as one of only four Pacific island nations at COP26, we speak for the good of all our neighbours who we are sure would have liked to be at COP26 but could not make it.
As our delegation concludes its climate talks and pushes for innovative ways to help combat the adverse effects of climate change, let us hope our good PM, the government and our delegation remain true to what COP26 is all about.
And that they actually push for ways to mitigate our drowning islands and ever increasing loss of animal habitats.
We say this because at the moment it seems like PNG has again sent another rather large sales and marketing team abroad to garner interest in our country in the hopes of improving our financial and economic situation rather than actually finding climate change solutions.
Post-Courier editorial published on 8 November 2021 with permission.