Climate change may sink the Pacific islands. Who will defend them at COP26?

Just a few days before the start of the UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, this was good news for the small Fiji delegation: President Biden did not refuse to meet with them.

“The meeting has not been determined, but it has not yet been ruled out,” Fiji’s ambassador to the United Nations, Satian de la Prasad, said in a text message on Friday. “Let’s see,” he wrote hopefully. “These things will be in place on the same day [of]. “

For small countries such as Fiji and other Pacific islands, face-to-face meetings with the leaders of the richest and most powerful countries in the world have never been more important or difficult. Their survival is at stake. These countries face enormous environmental challenges, from rising sea levels that can destroy entire villages and destroying tourism, to the destruction of coral reefs.

In the past five years, Fiji has experienced 13 hurricanes, of which 3 were the most destructive Category 5 hurricanes. After one of these storms, the country’s gross domestic product (measured by the goods and services provided) fell by 30%.

Aerial view of the Coral Coast of Fiji.

Aerial view of the Coral Coast of Fiji. Climate change is posing a long-term threat to the marine environment of the region.

(Fiji Coral Reef Explorer via AFP via Getty Images)

The country must face the possible prospect of having to relocate dozens of coastal communities whose lives may soon become unsustainable due to rising sea levels.

“Every two to three months, you have to face people who have just lost their homes. They look at you and ask you:’One more time?'” Prasad said. “At these large international conferences, you will think of such moments.”

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, only four Pacific island countries-Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu-will be represented by their heads of state at the Global Climate Summit this year. The other 11 countries will have smaller and smaller teams of representatives. Volunteers from non-profit organizations. This has raised concerns that the countries most vulnerable to climate change and least responsible for the carbon emissions that lead to rising temperatures will hardly attend the climate conference that is widely regarded as the most important since climate change. 2015 Paris Agreement.

“For Pacific countries, I am very worried,” Prasad said. “We are not big players on the global stage, but this year is an extremely difficult year.”

Due to the lack of attendance from island nations, the burden of delegates who are unable to travel to Scotland will mainly fall on the leaders who can travel to Scotland. Prasad said that he expects the four heads of state, including the Prime Minister of Fiji, to work “almost 24/7” during the two-week summit, holding what he called “the equivalent of a day by day Zoom meeting.”

On the agenda of small island nations: Urge leaders of wealthy industrialized nations to invest more to help them cope with the effects of climate change and transition to cleaner energy.

In 2009, the United States and other developed countries agreed to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars a year to developing countries by 2020. But this promise has never been fully realized. Rich countries fail to raise more than 80 billion U.S. dollars each year. Moreover, in a recent report, diplomats from Canada and Germany announced that they will not achieve their goals until 2023-three years late.

The sun sets behind the mountains of Viti Levu

In May 2000, the sun set behind the mountains of Suwaviti Island in Fiji.

(Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, went further in his request for assistance. In a speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this year, he called on rich countries to increase their financial commitments to at least US$750 billion each year starting in 2025. The limited financing that does exist in developing countries is often out of reach because of complex loans. Request, he said, adding that future aid should take the form of grants, without the need for the troubled country to bear more debt.

“I’m tired of applauding the tenacity of my people,” Bainimarama said. “True resilience depends not only on the perseverance of a country, but also on our access to financial resources.”

Over the past few months, growing concerns about the inability of leaders from developing countries to attend the summit have prompted a coalition of more than 1,500 environmental advocacy groups to call for Summit postponed This year is 2020 again. In September, Chairman of the Group of 46 Least Developed CountriesKnown as the least developed country, it is said that the UK’s quarantine requirements and the lack of commercial flights in Pacific island countries hinder their ability to personally participate in and present cases.

Last week, England announced that it would end the requirement to quarantine travelers and remove the last seven countries from the “red list” of coronavirus risk. But the decision came too late-small countries that cannot easily obtain vaccines and travel funds have already finalized their limited delegations.

“The absence of their voice will definitely affect representation and inclusiveness,” said Tracy Kajumba, a researcher at the Institute of International Environment and Development, a think tank in London.

She said that women and people from developing countries are under-represented in representatives and event organizers, and this imbalance may become more serious this year. “These are the voices that are really needed at the COP,” she said.

Prasad said that the leaders of the Pacific island countries participating in the meeting will have to speak on behalf of their missing colleagues, and it is best to have face-to-face meetings with as many G20 leaders as possible.

Under normal circumstances, it is tricky for small island countries to follow the schedule of these leaders. This usually means agreeing to hold a meeting late at night or early in the morning or during a meeting—for example, to catch up with the head of state when they leave one appointment and head to the next.

Prasad said: “Our leaders must be firm, very clear, and sometimes very non-diplomatic, to ensure that they can plan what our community and our people want them to do.”

Pacific island countries and developing countries have been able to exert influence in the past. In 2015, they fought for and won the language of the Paris climate agreement, which promised world leaders to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But since then, most industrialized countries have failed to achieve their emission reduction targets. A recent United Nations climate report found that even if countries today implement the most stringent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that cause atmospheric warming, global warming may exceed 1.5 degrees in the next 20 years.

Prasad said that Fiji and other Pacific island nations have a clear mission in Glasgow: to keep 1.5 goals alive. “We can’t imagine a future beyond it.”

Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *