Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Indonesia Prof. Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Nadi.
Region’s leading nation calls for renewed global effort to reduce carbon emissions
Fiji has appealed to developed nations not to behave selfishly over the catastrophic prospect facing Small Island Developing States because of climate change.
The Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama called for a renewed global commitment to reduce carbon emissions at the second summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Nadi, Fiji, which is being attended by the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and a number of Pacific leaders.
The Fijian leader expressed the Pacific region’s “collective disappointment and dismay” at the failure of the international community to seriously address the issue of climate change.
“The collective will to adequately address the crisis is receding at a time when the very existence of some Pacific Island nations is threatened by rising sea levels,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.
He said rising sea levels caused by global warming threaten to submerge the nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands and are already swamping the coastal areas of many Pacific nations, including Fiji.
Prime Minister Bainimarama made specific reference to Australia, which he accused of backtracking on its previous commitments on carbon emissions.
“The election of the new government in Australia last September has seen a distinct change of rhetoric about cutting carbon emissions.”
The Prime Minister called on Australia and other nations not to put short-term interests ahead of their responsibility to the global community, particularly to those nations whose very existence is in question.
“History will judge you harshly if you abandon us to our apparent fate of sinking below the waves because you don’t want to make the necessary adjustment to your domestic policies,” he said.
The issue of climate change has taken centre stage at the Pacific Islands Development Forum.
The President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – who delivered the keynote address – said that Indonesia has a strong commitment to broaden its network of cooperation with PIDF countries to mitigate the impact of climate change.
The President acknowledged the great challenge the world is facing from the impact of climate change.
“This is the reason why Indonesia has taken steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020, we aim to cut our emissions by 26 per cent using only our own resources, and up to 41 per cent with international support,” he said.
President Yudhoyono announced that over the next five years, Indonesia will also offer various capacity building programs to Pacific nations to deal with the crisis, plus a contribution of US$20 million.
The Fijian leader’s renewed call for action comes after the Fijian President and Head of State, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, announced in, February this year, that the people of Kiribati would be granted a home in Fiji if their country is submerged by the rising seas.
Kiribati has already purchased 6,000 acres of land on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu, to ensure its food security as sea water encroaches on its arable land.
The Fijian president announced that some or all of the 100,000 citizens of Kiribati would be able to migrate to Fiji if the need arose.
“Fiji will not turn its back on our neighbours in their hour of need,” he said. “I want to assure you all that Fiji will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you face this crisis, as well as in doing everything possible to try to avert it. In a worst case scenario and if all else fails, you will not be refugees.”
The PIDF Summit ends on Friday 20th June.