Coastal villages hit hard by rising seas

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During high tide, water overflows on Buala wharf in Isabel Province. Pappa Steeviey
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

The threat of sea level rise on the sea coasts of Solomon Islands is real.

The country lies east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu and 3,280 km to Australia, has nine big provinces and more than 900 small islands.

Most of the 700,000 population live alongside coastal areas in Solomon Islands.

Evidence shows some parts of the country have hit hard by sea level rise.

 At Buluabu village in Lilisiana, Langa Langa lagoon, Malaita province, the water has reached the floor level of some houses in the village.

Sea intrusion into Buluabu village in Langa langa lagoon in Malaita province. John Selogaga

While at Buala wharf in Isabel Province during low tide, the sea level drops very low but at high tide, the salt water

Furthermore, Solomon Star female reporter, Esther Nuria published a story and photos on the impact of climate change on people of Walande in South Malaita.

She covered the story after attending the Anglican Mother Union meeting in Walande.

The story landed her the first prize at the end of the six weeks National Security Reporting Course organized by Media Association of Solomon Islands and Australia Pacific Security College.

David Hiba Hiriasia, Director of the Solomon Islands National Meteorological Services in reference to sea level rise, said La Nina contributed to this as well.

Hiriasi said the trade winds push more warm water on our side of the Pacific and so sea level is expected to be higher than average

COP 26

Solomon Islands hoped for a decision to reach on Long Term Finance at United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), Conference of Parties 26 at Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom from 31 October to 13 November 2021.

Deputy Secretary (Technical) of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Chanel Iroi, said the endorsement of the LTF would not only provide financial leverage to struggling small island states but also honor the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage which was one of the resolutions of Paris Agreement.

Iroi said Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the effect of climate change in the coming years reemphasized the need for world leaders to endorse and roll out the LTF to vulnerable countries.

He said ground work on Loss and Damages must continue at the same time global leaders must make the right choice to reduce emissions so as facilitating financial resources towards mitigation and adaptation programs.

Iroi said priority areas for slow onset events and non-economic losses on the international stage while incorporate “limits to adaptation” in National Adaptation Plans and other GCF proposals was important.

According to CarbonBrief, the “Glasgow Climate Pact” that emerged from the summit was welcomed by many for its commitment to doubling adaptation finance and requesting countries to present more ambitious climate pledges this year.

“Others were disappointed that this COP once again failed to provide vulnerable nations with the money to rebuild and respond to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

“Much was also made of a last-minute intervention from the Indian environment minister Bhupender Yadav that saw language around moving beyond coal weakened in the final text,” CarbonBrief said.

It said the call to “phase down” unabated coal use is, nevertheless, unprecedented in the UN climate process.

COP 27

Solomon Islands and other Small Islands nations are preparing for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 7-18 November 2022.

Australia Foreign Minister, Penny Wong relayed positive messages to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Solomon Islands to tackle climate change.

Senator Wong told media following her visit to Solomon Islands that Australia is committed to reach 43 percent by 2030 and plan to host a United Nations Climate conference with the Pacific Islands nations.

“That would lead to in terms of renewable energy, that is 82 percent of our energy being renewable being provided from renewable energy sources. So, we are serious about this,” she added.

Furthermore, Senator Wong said other thing she want to talk with Pacific Islands countries is stronger engagement potentially holding Conference of the Parties to try and press issues.

“When I was Climate Minister and still today, I think the voices of smaller island nations have been powerful and authentic in the UN negotiations,” she added.

However, the new Labour government is to adopt a policy to deal with coal and fossil fuel in Australia.

Australia is showing commitment to address climate change through infrastructure design for projects.

Tony Telford, Infrastructure Management Leader in Hub for Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program said the impacts of climate change is real in the Solomon Islands after their scoping visits to Malu’u (Malaita), Buala (Isabel) and Seghe (Western).

“Just focusing on climate change and disaster resilience, certainly climate change is a very real threat and it is something that is considered at the very start of any design process.

“At Malu’u, the shoreline coming closer, so that is something we need to consider at the very start of the design process,” he said.

Furthermore, Telford said the other thing that they noticed at Buala, there is a wharf next to the market and looking at photos, the wharf is under water at few times each year.

He said that is another visible impact that climate change has and forefront on design process.

Strong message from UN GS

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations speaking ahead of the COP27 said the answer lies in renewables – for climate action, for energy security, and for providing clean electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who currently lack it.  Renewables are a triple win.

“There is no excuse for anyone to reject a renewables revolution. 

“While oil and gas prices have reached record price levels, renewables are getting cheaper all the time,” he said.

“The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade.  The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent. 

“And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels,” he said.

The UN GS said of course, renewables are not the only answer to the climate crisis. 

He said nature-based solutions, such as reversing deforestation and land degradation, are essential. 

“So too are efforts to promote energy efficiency. 

“But a rapid renewable energy transition must be our ambition,” he said.

“As we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the benefits will be vast, and not just to the climate. 

“Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security,” Guterres said.

“When energy prices rise, so do the costs of food and all the goods we rely on. 

“So, let us all agree that a rapid renewables revolution is necessary and stop fiddling while our future burns,” he added.

While world leaders are still finding ways to phase out coal and encourage big nations to adopt renewable energy, the low-lying islands in the Solomon Islands are sinking as well in the Pacific.


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