Pacific Island States attending the annual Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poland this week have emphasized the need for all countries to take more action to address climate change and its causes.
Representatives from the Pacific Islands were among the first parties to address a high-level gathering of leaders at the UNFCCC following a presentation on the impacts of global temperature rise by the chair to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the president of Poland and the secretary general of the United Nations.
Opening that address was the president of Kiribati who was later joined by leaders from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Melanesia, Micronesia, and the Polynesian states -- all of them singing the same tune.
Their message hinged on how the outcome of this year's COP should aim to increase climate action and acknowledge loss and damage in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Addressing the closing of a ministerial Talanoa Dialogue, a roundtable discussion format pulled from the way small-island states achieve consensus, Fiji’s Prime Minister and host of last year's 23rd COP, Frank Bainimarama, called on all countries to join Fiji and the Marshall Islands as the first two nations to commit to raising their climate change mitigation efforts, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by 2020 and achieve net zero emissions by the middle of the century.
“If we can do it, so can you," Bainimarama said. "I ask you all to heed the appeal of the UN Secretary General to come to his summit in New York next September with concrete plans – informed by yesterday’s Talanoas and the hundreds before them – to raise your own NDCs.
“I also thank the Secretary General for his strong endorsement of the Talanoa Dialogue as a critical vehicle to raise ambition and his call for the Talanoa process to continue all the way to New York and beyond,” Bainimarama said.
Fiji is committed to continuing to lead the Talanoa Call for Action, he added, referring to a statement reached at the COP24 in Poland that calls for urgent and rapid action toward meeting the global climate goals agreed to as part of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.
“We are proud and very gratified that this Pacific concept of inclusive decision making has captured the imagination of the world," Bainimarama said.
“Together, we must recognise the gravity of the challenge we face – the need to increase our collective NDC’s fivefold – five times more ambition, five times more action – if we are to achieve the 1.5 degree target."
Low-lying island states have been pushing for that target at a global scale to help prevent the disasterous consequences that could result from a 0.5-degree rise in temperature.
“Together, we must unreservedly accept the science and the advice that our present NDCs have us on target for warming of at least 3 degrees by century’s end. Together, we must commit to continue exchanging ideas and best practices to raise our NDCs and achieve net zero emissions by 2050," Banimarama continued.
Meanwhile, representatives from the Solomon Islands said the country is committed to working with the COP24 Presidency through the Talanoa Dialogue to review and enhance its own NDCs to put it back on a 1.5 -degree Celsius trajectory.
“The global response to climate change must be strengthened and deepened," said Dr. Melchior Mataki, the Solomon Islands Head of Delegation to COP24 and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology.
“To this end, the Talanoa Dialogue must result in a formal COP decision,” he said at Wednesday's high-level address.