Statement by Henry Puna
Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum
Pacific Oceans Commissioner
On the IPCC Working Group 1 report on the Physical Science basis of the sixth assessment
The latest IPCC Working Group 1 Report this week confirms what the Blue Pacific already knows to be true – our planet is in the throes of a human-induced climate crisis, and we have lost the luxury of time. On the current trajectory, we are on track to exceed the 1.5-degree limit on global warning by 2040.
Of major concern for the Blue Pacific Continent and the future of our island homes, is the fact sea levels could rise by two metres by 2100 and a disastrous five metres by 2150. The report also found that extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century. To put this into perspective, this will result in the loss of millions of lives, homes and livelihoods across the Pacific and the world.
We are on the brink of a climate catastrophe, with a narrow window to act.
Governments, big business, the major emitters of the world can no longer ignore the voices of those already enduring this unfolding existential crisis. They can no longer choose rhetoric over action. There are simply no more excuses to be had. Our actions today will have consequences now and into the future for all of us to bear.
The 2019 Kainaki Lua Declaration from our Pacific Island Forum Leaders continues as our clarion call for urgent climate action. Not later. Not when we decide we are ready. But now.
Collectively, humanity has a choice to make this a turning point to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, or rather hit a tipping point and face irreversible and catastrophe climate change impacts.
We can turn this around. But only if we act now. Forum Leaders have upped the ante in 2021 with their recent issue of the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change-related Sea-level rise – a strong and decisive step in efforts to secure our Blue Pacific home now and into perpetuity.
World leaders, like our Pacific leaders, must affirm climate change as the single greatest threat facing all humanity and act with urgency to implement the Paris Agreement at COP 26 this November.
We know what needs to be done, how it will happen, and who must act. The 6th IPCC Assessment Report shows us that the science is clear. We know the scale of the climate crisis we are facing. We also have the solutions to avoid the worst of climate change impacts. What we need now is political leadership and momentum to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
COP 26 must be a turning point to deliver major emissions reductions and the necessary financial support for vulnerable countries to build resilience and adapt to climate change impacts.
We have only one planet and one final opportunity to ensure its survival. We must leave a future for our children to inherit. The net-zero future of our one Blue Pacific Continent and this one Blue Planet is still -albeit barely–within reach. But only if the world takes ambitious and decisive climate action, now.
–Suva Fiji, 9 August 2021