World Economy

Pacific Leaders Agree to Disagree

Pacific Leaders Agree to Disagree Pacific Leaders Agree to Disagree

The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders group endorsed its declaration for Climate Change Action Plan during its 46th annual meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from September 8-10.

The Pacific declaration will be among declarations from other regions and countries of the world to the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP21 to be held in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11, Matangi Tonga reported.

Pacific Leaders “reiterated their concerns that Climate Change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.”

They called for the adoption of an ambitious and legally binding agreement at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP21.

Expressing their grave concern that Pacific Islands are already facing adverse effects of climate change with the current average global temperature increase of 0.85 degree Celsius, they warned that “any further warming could push many countries beyond their capacity to adapt.”

They declared that an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius “would severely exacerbate the particular challenges facing the most vulnerable smaller island states of the Pacific …”

They pleaded for all efforts to be made to stay within the global temperature goal of below 1.5 Celsius that was noted by the conference of parties to the UNFCCC in its decision of 1/CP20 in Lima, Peru in 2014.

Pacific Leaders agreed to extend the two regional frameworks: the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change, and the Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Framework for Action for one year.

  Not the Best Outcome

At a press conference ahead of the communique release, Kiribati President Anote Tong said it was an agreement to disagree.

 “It’s not the best outcome that we would have liked,” he said of Australia and New Zealand’s refusal to back a figure lower than the UN mandate. “I think we must respect that. Whether we accept that or not is a different question,” Tong said.

Many of the island states are barely two meters above sea level, which leaders said added weight to their lower target. They faced serious problems “on the frontline” of global warming and were in a very different position to Australia and New Zealand, Tong said.

  Not to Be Pushed Around

The NGO Oxfam says the smaller Pacific Island countries showed at last week’s Forum summit that they will not be pushed around on key issues like climate change.

The leaders agreed to disagree on what position the region should take to the COP21 meeting in Paris later this year.

Most Pacific states want a 1.5 degrees temperature limit but New Zealand and Australian would not budge from the 2 degree cap endorsed by many other countries.

Oxfam New Zealand policy advisor, Luke Roughton, says the smaller countries know that climate change is an issue of survival for them.

“And the fact that they weren’t willing to bow to Australian and New Zealand pressure to water down a statement on climate change, I think is a positive signal for the Pacific. What we should be worried about, I think, is that New Zealand and Australia aren’t willing to create climate targets that are strong enough to ensure the Pacific’s survival.”

Ahead of the meeting the leaders of the group’s six smallest members said the upcoming climate talks in Paris were the last chance for the world to reach an agreement that could save their vulnerable island nations.