Fiji Urges Greater Climate Ambition as it Passes COP Presidency to Poland

As Fiji prepares to hand over the presidency of the global climate negotiations to Poland, the COP23 President, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, has called for a renewed effort on the part of world leaders to accelerate their response to climate change. Describing the process as being at a “critical stage”, the Fijian leader said a much greater degree of political will is necessary to confront the magnitude of the climate threat.

“I think it is the great tragedy of our times that far too many people of power and influence are ignoring the science, the evidence all around us. Because they are putting short-term economic and political interests before our collective long-term interests. Before the sustainability of our environment, our economies and the very survival of life as we know it”, he said.

Prime Minister Bainimarama was addressing a major gathering in London as part of the Talanoa Dialogue that Fiji has promoted under its COP Presidency to raise action and ambition in the climate struggle. Dubbed the “Talanoa talks”, the event – at the Royal Institution – drew an influential series of speakers from politics, business, civil society and the arts community, including the British actor Ralph Fiennes and the global music star Ellie Goulding.

In his speech of welcome, Prime Minister Bainimarama called for the high ambition for climate action that Fiji has promoted as COP23 President to continue under the COP24 Presidency of Poland.

“The Polish have adopted as a theme for their Presidency for the next 12 months what they call “A Just Transition”. I want to say as outgoing COP President that I agree with this. But it must not only be a just transition for those workers, regions and economies affected by the move from dirty energy to clean energy but a just transition for everyone. And especially the most climate vulnerable. Because natural justice also demands that those human beings who are facing extreme weather events, rising seas or changes to agriculture also be given the opportunity and the means to properly adapt. To make the transition to a more secure future in a frightening new era, that in many instances, they have played no part in causing”, he said.

The Talanoa Dialogue is to be one of the centrepieces at COP24 with a ministerial “talanoa” presided over by Fiji and Poland. Dialogues under the Talanoa banner have been taking place all over the world over the past few months in which participants swap ideas and best practices about raising climate action and ambition, including each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Talanoa is a Pacific concept of decision-making based on an inclusive, respectful exchange of ideas that we use to reach a consensus in our own societies about the best way forward. And as COP23 President, I am proud to have led the effort to share this concept from our island homes with the world at large as a tool to accelerate ambition in the climate struggle. In a world in which many forces are trying to undermine our ability to work together, the Talanoa Dialogue may be the greatest legacy of Fiji’s COP presidency, as the first Small Island Developing State to preside over the UN negotiations. Already hundreds of sessions like this have been held all over the world. And the wonderful thing is that these are not merely talkfests but genuine exchanges of ideas that are leading to more ambition and more action”, the Prime Minister said.