23/09/19

“Fiji stands committed to uniting behind the science –– an impassioned plea that the world’s youth just demanded from each of us.” – Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit

Secretary-General,

I rise to answer your call for more ambition and more action to wrestle our planet from the grasp of the climate crisis. Fiji stands committed to uniting behind the science –– an impassioned plea that the world’s youth just demanded from each of us.

The brutality of our changing climate has already driven vulnerable communities into a nightmare scenario –– one in which the hellscapes of storms like Cyclone Winston and Hurricane Dorian have become the new normal. Even if we limit temperature rise to the 1.5-degree target, without urgent adaptation, our suffering will go on for generations and claim many more innocent lives. Acceptance of this living nightmare is morally unthinkable, and denial is unconscionable. Every nation must heed the call of our youth – wake up – and begin building towards a vibrant, resilient future.

Fiji’s view of what must be done is clear. We have submitted our long-term strategy to achieve net zero emissions before 2050. We are nearing completion of our enhanced NDC. We enacted an Environmental and Climate Levy, issued a green bond, and are using innovative financing solutions to fund these plans.

We are relocating climate-vulnerable communities and infrastructure. We are striving to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. We are finding creative ways to reduce emissions from our biggest emitter – transportation – including public transport and shipping. We are promoting climate-resilient agriculture and are finding nature-based solutions to protect our forests, mangroves, and riverbanks. We are enshrining our commitment to the Paris Agreement through a new Climate Change Law, which is currently undergoing public consultations. We are ensuring that our oceans are an integral part of both the UNFCCC process and our own national development, pursuing 100 per cent sustainable management of our Exclusive Economic Zones by 2030. We have declared a 10-year moratorium on sea-bed mining, and I have asked others to join us, to allow for research and properly assess the environmental hazards.

Why, as a tiny carbon emitter ourselves, are we taking such drastic action? The answer is simple: While Fiji did not cause the climate crisis, we are fully awake to its reality. Someone must act with clear-eyed purpose and resolve; someone must clear a path for others to follow. If we fail or if we falter, our children and grandchildren will have no path at all.

Thank you, Secretary-General, for this opportunity to speak at this Summit, and for your understanding, foresight and unrelenting passion.