The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has opened a meeting of the Pacific Small Island Developing States in Nadi with a call for urgent international action to address climate change.
He said the world was dragging its feet on the need to tackle global warming, which he said was having a “dire effect” on Pacific nations through rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
In unusually strong language, the Prime Minister said the Pacific nations expected the industrialised world to finally face up to its responsibilities.
“Let me say this to the big polluters – the big carbon emitters: Whatever the science of climate change, it is you who must respond to global warming, which threatens the very existence of some of our Small Island Developing States.
“You need – for our sakes – to set targets to curb your carbon emissions. Because the majority scientific opinion has it that you are causing global warming”, he said.
The Prime Minister said it was unacceptable that the industrialised nations were still unwilling to set binding targets on their emissions of carbon dioxide, which most climate scientists are blaming for rising temperatures.
“It is not good enough to say “ it is all too hard”, to put the protection of your own carbon- emitting industries first. It’s time for you to place yourself in the position of a citizen of
Kiribati, one of the Small Island Developing States whose very existence is under threat.”
The Prime Minister said the people of Kiribati were slowly watching their islands sink and had been forced to buy 6000 acres of higher ground in Vanua Levu – Fiji’s second biggest island
“We welcome them as neighbours and friends. But for the industrialised countries to put themselves first, to let a whole nation sink slowly beneath the waves, is bound to be regarded by future generations as the height of selfishness”, he said.
The PM said that the Pacific nations also expected the industrialised countries to bear the cost of the adverse effects they were having on the lives of Pacific peoples.
“We are not the carbon emitters, they are. So when we suffer adverse consequences, such as more frequent destructive hurricanes, we believe they should shoulder more of the cost”, he said.