Caption: Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. File Photo.
Pacific nations must come up with a coordinated response to the local impacts of climate change in the face of global inaction, according to the Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
The AG was opening a joint meeting in Denarau of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable, that brings together various stakeholders dealing with the impacts of global warming.
He said that while the science of climate change was hotly disputed, there was no question that the planet was warming and this was having grave consequences for Pacific nations in the form of rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
“Whole countries such as Tuvalu and Kiribati are at risk as ice caps melt and sea levels rise to unprecedented heights. Some of these countries are already preparing for a doomsday scenario in which their islands are eventually submerged and their populations have to be moved to higher ground elsewhere”, he said.
The AG said that while the Pacific Small Island Developing States – led by Fiji – continued to press for global action on climate change at the United Nations, a coordinated response was needed at local level to develop a Disaster Risk Management Plan for the region.
“As always, our resources are limited and we need a holistic approach to problem solving that is practical, affordable and involves a close partnership between Government, the business community and civil society groups. We also need to strike a balance between the urgent need to mitigate against the effects of climate change and the economic capability of Pacific Small Island States to do so”, he said.
The AG called for international assistance for Pacific countries to enable them to come up with an integrated approach to dealing with rising sea levels and extreme weather events, which he said were becoming more frequent.
“If we are to assume that global warming is human-made, or exacerbated by humans, we in the Pacific are clearly not to blame. We are victims of the big carbon emitters and natural justice alone dictates that they should carry the burden of the problems they have created”, the AG added.