Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has raised his concern on the need for more investment funds to assist in protecting our food systems, agricultural productivity and water supplies.
In his opening address at the Pacific Small Islands Developing States High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva today, Rabuka said we need support as well to build infrastructure to withstand the intensifying effects of rising sea levels, extreme weather and the shifting dynamics of the ocean.
“I go further and call for a special fund dedicated to assisting our Island nations. It would enable us to act swiftly to adjust to and protect against the creeping climate menace. Early warning systems must be set up along with evacuation plans and community adaptation training.”
“This crisis relentlessly eats away at our shores and coastal areas. Six Fijian villages have already been relocated. Forty-two are earmarked to be removed in the next five to ten years.”
Rabuka said COP28 in November in the United Arab Emirates is the next opportunity for a global stock-take on the problems outlined.
“Surely this must be the moment for the world to take the corrective action that is so urgently needed? Surely we can expect this COP to be different?”
“I welcome fairly recent comments by the incoming COP President, Sultan Al Jaber. ‘We must be brutally honest,” he said, “about the gaps that need to be filled, the root causes and how we got to this place… today.”
Al Jaber called on countries to update the plans and targets agreed upon at the landmark summit in 2015 that created the Paris Agreement. He also stressed the need to keep global heating below 1.5°C, saying it was the summit’s “North Star”.
He added that in many ways we have to be more self-reliant and don’t blame others for problems that we have caused ourselves.
“Drainage problems that lead to flooding must be fixed by us. We are doing more to preserve and enlarge our mangrove forests that provide natural coastal protection. Volunteers regularly clean up shorelines littered with rubbish. The littering has spread widely, converting parts of our landscape into shameful eyesores.”
“When a group of Japanese volunteers decided to pick up the rubbish that scarred the streets of Lautoka City’s central business district, that, to me, was a national embarrassment. I thank those young people for what they did. But it reflects badly on Fiji that they felt it necessary to act.”
“Recently I issued a public statement on an environmental issue that has generated much criticism in the region and internationally. I’m referring to the plans by Japan to discharge treated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. The Plant was badly damaged by a tsunami in 2011.”
He mentioned the controversy is on the agenda of the Pacific Islands Forum and confirmed his support for a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the discharge of the wastewater met international safety standards.
“I based my views on the science applied by the independent IAEA in its investigations and reports. The IAEA is part of the United Nations system. The safety standards mentioned by the IAEA are reviewed annually by the UN General Assembly, based on estimates by the UN Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). The standards also include recommendations from the independent, non-government group the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).”
“My decision to endorse the IAEA findings was taken by me as a Prime Minister’s prerogative. Those who oppose the position I’ve taken are obviously entitled to their viewpoints.”
“However I urge them to consider the science involved. One of my critics at the weekend appeared to be somehow connecting the wastewater discharge with the cataclysmic power of the nuclear bombs dropped in the Pacific as part of weapons testing.”
“That, to me, is fear-mongering. It’s impossible to compare those nuclear tests with the careful discharge of treated wastewater from Fukushima over a period of approximately 30 years. The material I have read says a commercial-type power reactor simply cannot, under any circumstances, explode like a nuclear bomb. The fuel is not enriched beyond about 5 percent; a much higher enrichment is needed for explosives.”