PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM
Remarks from the Secretary General Henry Puna
at The Climate Reality Project, Australia
Blue Pacific to Glasgow Forum
6th October 2021
Bula vinaka, Kia Orana and warm Pacific greetings from the Blue Pacific.
It is certainly an honour and a pleasure to welcome the Honourable Al Gore, a true climate champion and leader, and to join with him and the Climate Reality Project, for this important forum today, to raise Pacific voices for ambitious climate action.
Ladies and gentlemen, in just 25 days, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for the 26th meeting of the Global UN Conference to combat climate change. For our planet and our Blue Pacific, the stakes could not be higher. Whether you live in a large country or an island, climate change is threatening our collective survival.
Here in the Blue Pacific, climate change is our daily reality. Regular and prolonged droughts, unexpected floods, warming oceans and rising seas, low-lying islands submerged, coastlines eroded by high seas, and crops damaged by saltwater intrusion. In the last 5 years, five Category 5 tropical cyclones have wreaked havoc in our region, with the economic costs last year alone, estimated at US 1.5 billion dollars. With each climate- induced disaster we suffer loss of life, loss of livelihoods, loss of homes, and loss of decades of development gains. Our existing vulnerabilities to climate change are growing daily, and we are unable to keep up with the costs of its impacts.
The latest IPCC report paints a bleak future for all of us. And Mother Nature has been giving us reminders, not only in the Blue Pacific, but r.ight across the world. The flooding that occurred in various parts of Europe in July of this year, resulting in fatalities and considerable damage to infrastructure, has been attributed to human-induced climate change. The same can also be said in the case of Hurricane Laura and Ida, examples closer to home for you, Honourable Gore, where climate change is increasing the frequency, and intensity, of such natural hazards. Severe droughts are ravaging many parts of the globe, in many cases unseen and unheard of before.
As a global community, we must take heed of what the science and Nature is saying – failure to do so, will be to our collective peril.
In this, the Blue Pacific is doing what we can to address this crisis.
The 2019 Kainaki Lua Declaration by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, is a declaration that is drawn directly from the COP 2015 Paris Agreement, and continues as our clarion call, for urgent climate change action now.
Furthermore, Forum Leaders in early August issued the groundbreaking Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones, in the face of Climate Change-related Sea-level rise. It is a considered solution we offer, to address climate change related sea-level rise, and its impact on our maritime zones. This declaration is a strong and decisive step, towards securing our respective homes now, and into perpetuity.
Forum Leaders have also endorsed the establishment of the Pacific Resilience Facility. Currently over 80% of climate finance goes to mitigation. Yet we know that every dollar spent upfront on resilience and preparedness, saves approximately seven dollars in recovery costs.
Ladies and gentlemen, whether we are from countries that are developed, emerging, or developing, we are all vulnerable to and impacted by Climate Change. We all have a moral obligation, to do what is right. It shouldn’t be just our Pacific voices, but that of the world combined, because while the Pacific is on the frontline, the whole world faces the ever-encroaching threat of climate change.
That is why COP 26 in just over three weeks’ time, is so critical. Our World Leaders must affirm climate change, as the single greatest threat facing all humanity. They must act accordingly, and with urgency, to effect the ambitious actions that are needed for our survival as peoples, communities, and nations in this one Blue Planet, our one and only home!
It is the Blue Pacific’s earnest hope that:
COP 26 will deliver net zero emissions by 2050 and hold our world to 1.5 degrees.
COP 26 will finalise the rulebook for the Paris Agreement, our roadmap to that net zero future.
COP26 will deliver on the USD $100 billion finance commitment and make access to those funds cost-effective and burden-free, in support of adaptation strategies.
COP26 will establish a new climate finance goal for post 2025, with dedicated finance for loss and damage.
COP 26 will deliver the effective integration of oceans, into the oceans-climate nexus work of the UNFCCC.
Put simply, we cannot understate the urgency of what we must achieve at COP 26. Climate change is no longer an issue for debate. The science is clear. It is a matter of survival.
To all world leaders, now is the time for action!
Act now for our children
Act now for our grand children
Act now for all of humanity
Act now for our one and only Blue Planet.
I Thank you–ENDS
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