REMARKS: SG Puna remarks at Pacific Dialogue on global phase out of Fossil Fuels

Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji Government and Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA)

Virtual Pacific Dialogue on the Global Phase Out of Fossil Fuels and Just Transition,
Opening Remarks
Henry Puna, SG

26 April 2023

Your Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
Honourable Minister Dan Jorgensen of Denmark
Honourable Assistant Minister Sakiusa Tabuna of Fiji
Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners of the Pacific Islands Forum countries represented here in Fiji
Member Countries representatives joining us online,
Ladies and Gentlemen, friends

Bula, Kia Orana and welcome to this High-Level closed-door discussion on an issue of great importance to us here in the Blue Pacific, to Denmark and indeed for the whole world if we are serious about addressing the root cause of Climate change.

2. In March this year, I had the great honour to be part of a three-day workshop in Port Vila, Vanuatu to discuss how our member countries and our region can position ourselves for a future of zero-emissions. These discussions followed the initial dialogue held in the margins of COP27 in Egypt on the idea of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, championed by Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

3. I was pleasantly surprised to also learn at that meeting of similar initiatives being proposed by other countries in other parts of the globe, one of which is the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance initiative spearheaded by Denmark. The point of difference is the fact that Denmark is both a developed country and an oil and gas producer.

4. The question can easily be asked “What’s in it for you and what’s in it for us? To answer this question, it is important to remember that out Pacific Leaders have declared that climate change is the greatest single existential threat facing humankind today and that our region is facing a state of climate emergency. In this regard, we are all in this together. Climate change does not favour one group of nations over another. We need to tackle this as a collective.

5. I recall that the Port Vila Call to Action for a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, is premised on the notion of a ‘Just Transition’. We need a just and equitable phase out of fossil fuels by ensuring the development of pathways that are based on renewable energy and using Pacific appropriate technologies. We will need transformational investments at scale to position our economies for a new way of doing things. In essence, we could be looking at unlocking a new economic order, powered by innovation that does not rely on fossil fuels.

6. I am not for one minute blind to the fact that this will not be easy, but I am encouraged that we can do this with the help of genuine and mutually beneficial partnerships. I commend Denmark for being a friend to the Pacific and for their leadership on the international stage in echoing the call of the Pacific for a Just Transition out of fossil fuels and into a clean energy future.

7. I note that this is a closed-door dialogue under Chatham House rules and therefore trust that the discussions will be frank, free and open and I look forward to hearing some of your views, both from the Danish delegation and from our Pacific member countries.

I thank you.

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