Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has reminded the rest of the world that conditions which have led to global warming are not created by islanders of the Pacific, yet they bear the brunt of the hazard.
Rabuka made this comment in his address at the Pacific Small Islands Developing States High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva today.
“We gather here for further critical discussion on the climate change issue that represents a real threat to our Islands, our people and their way of life.”
He said all delegates present at the dialogue are familiar with the phenomenon of global warming unleashed by greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting destructive impact on the environment.
“The grim reality for us in the Pacific includes devastation from mighty storms, rising sea levels, deadly pollution; encroachment into village areas, degradation of land and damage to reefs.”
“One crucial figure concentrates the minds of regional leaders – 1.5°C.”
“That’s the target for limiting global warming and maintaining it at a sustainable level. If we can reach 1.5, then our prospects for protecting everything that is precious to us in our Island environment should be within reach.”
“But doubts arise about the world’s ability, or even willingness, to go there. So for us it’s a question of constantly pushing for 1.5 in every way we can. Critical to this is cutting back those greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane.”
He highlighted the effects of climate change itself, grappling with the reality of fossil fuels based on carbon organisms, and how important they are in the economic sense.
“Another uncomfortable reality is that producing and burning these fuels creates air pollution that harms health and generates toxic emissions that drive climate change. From the electricity that lights homes to the cars people drive to work, modern life was built on fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.”
“Here in the Pacific we are motivated by the desire to adopt alternatives. It is a matter of survival.”
“We understand that for many countries this is not easy. But we must still rely on them to help us, not only by moving away from fossil fuels, but also by doing more to cut emissions.”
“All this is urgent. Lack of action is reflective of another crisis – a moral one.”
He added that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that every region is highly vulnerable.
“It says there is a “rapidly closing window of opportunity” to achieve a secure future for all those affected.”
“The science, in our view, leaves no room for debate. The large economies should move as quickly as possible towards phasing out fossil fuels, embracing clean energy and bringing down those emissions levels. Alternatives include solar, “green” hydrogen and bio fuels made from plants and algae; hydro energy and wind power. This last natural resource served our ancestors very well on their ocean journeys. We in Fiji are looking at how we can reintroduce it.”