BY CHARLES KADAMANA
In Funafuti, Tuvalu
FIJI Prime Minister and Chair of the Small Islands States Frank Bainimarama has pledged to Pacific leaders that Fiji will use everything in its power to arrange a collective strength to restore and reinvigorate the 1.5 degree target in every global forum.
He made the pledge when speaking at the Climate Change Sautalaga at the Rt Hon Dr Sir Tomasi Puapua convention centre in Funafuti, Tuvalu yesterday.
“I pledge to you all today that Fiji will use everything in its power – and I as current Chair of the Pacific Small Island Developing States will do everything in my power – to marshal our collective strength here in the Pacific to restore and reinvigorate the 1.5 degree target in every global forum, including next month’s Global Climate Summit in New York and at COP25 in Santiago, Chile in December.
“I am proud to say that Fiji is rising to the challenge laid down by the UN Secretary General to go to New York with an increase in our own NDC, our Nationally Determined Contribution, to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
“And I urge all of our Pacific partners, wherever possible, to do the same.
He said the path to more ambitions involves a faster transition to renewable energy, more efficient utilisation of our forests and mangroves – nature’s carbon capture – and a range of innovative mechanisms to achieve the net zero emissions target that the Secretary General has requested by 2050, 31 years from now.
“We are also introducing a Climate Change Act in Fiji that will enshrine, in law, our domestic response to the climate threat and the threat to our oceans and place that law at the heart of our national policies and priorities.
“Among other things, it will establish procedures for the relocation of communities that are at risk and support the Relocation Trust fund that has already been approved by our Parliament and that we will be launching at the New York Summit next month,” Mr Bainimarama said.
He said in addition to playing a leadership role in the global Ocean Pathway, they are also developing a National Oceans Policy, under which Fiji plans to move to a 100 per cent sustainable managed Exclusive Economic Zone, with 30 per cent of this being earmarked as a marine protected area by no later than 2030.
“I ask you all to join in this ambitious venture, and also support a 10 year moratorium on seabed mining from 2020 to 2030, which would allow for a decade of proper scientific research of our economic zones and territorial waters.
“We are also leading, with the Marshall Islands, the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership that is working on a blended and innovative finance structure to support the decarbonisation of domestic marine transportation fleets and facilities in Fiji and across the region.
“This means replacing inter-island ships with more efficient hybrid ships, thereby reducing fuel costs and emissions,” Mr Bainimarama added.
He said in a broader sense, the leaders need greater cohesion and greater resolve in their collective response to the climate threat and the threat to the oceans many people depend for food and their livelihoods.
“And I ask my fellow Pacific Island leaders to support a collective approach on the part of us all that is ambitious, holistic and achievable,” he said.
Reducing the global warming to 1.5 degree is one of the key challenges the Pacific Islands countries is facing against the most world’s most powerful countries.
Despite of that the Pacific Islands countries were successful in ensuring the Paris Agreement committed all countries to aiming to limit warming to 1.5 degree.
Any chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degree global emission must be halved by 2030 and reach zero by the middle of this century at the latest.
Under the equity principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is clear that those whose development and wealth have been built through decades of using fossil energy and who have a greater capacity to respond to this crisis must take the lead.
Meanwhile the 50th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting will officially open today.