We cannot be muzzled by diplomatic niceties: COP 23 President

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Pacific countries ‘cannot be muzzled by diplomatic niceties’ when it comes to climate change.

Speaking at the diplomatic briefing in Suva today on COP 23 and the UN oceans conference next year, Bainimarama said it was suggested to him to be more diplomatic when accepting the Presidency of COP23.

“It was suggested to me at one stage that Fiji needed to be more diplomatic when I formally accepted the presidency of COP-23. No! We are going to press as hard as we can for decisive global action. And Fiji, as the President of COP-23, intends to bring the global community together. And encourage the high carbon emitters and the low carbon emitters to find common ground. Because I passionately believe that only by working together cooperatively and educating the world about the facts of climate change, can we tackle the crisis that confronts us all.

“It is also the time for some plain speaking. For Frank to be frank, which I am always keen to do. In our quest to bring everyone together for a truly global solution – which is in the best interests of all nations in the long run - we will at times have to speak very plainly and frankly.

“We cannot be muzzled by diplomatic niceties. And as President of COP-23, I intend to tell it like it is. Because it is the only way for us all to move forward,” PM Bainimarama told diplomats in Suva.

Bainimarama said countries must get more decisive action to curb carbon emissions. He said there is a growing realisation that even the 1.5 degree cap that the Pacific island nations proposed in the Suva Declaration is not enough.

“And that we may need to rethink that as well if we are to avert an even more grave situation.

“Because those emissions from the industrial nations are putting us all at risk. We must get the necessary finance in the form of grants to build our resilience to climate change. To future proof our nations and their economies. And to future proof future generations.

“We also need the financial tools to strengthen our infrastructure. To build walls to keep the seas at bay. To put our power lines underground. To move our communities out of the path of the rising waters. We need to build our economic and social resilience.
“It is critically important for every nation to join the fight for action on climate change. To support the programme of carbon emission reductions and contribute to the international fund to help vulnerable nations with their climate adaptation, he said.

Bainimarama said the world cannot have the second biggest carbon emitter in the world - the United States - unilaterally withdrawing from this effort.

“We must persuade the American President-elect, Donald Trump, to change his mind about pulling out of the Paris Agreement. Because if he does, then there is no hope for the world to comprehensively tackle this issue.

“Without America, the battle against climate change is doomed. Without America, it is already lost. And as I said in Marrakesh, I appeal to Mr Trump to have a personal change of heart and a public change of policy on this issue.

As you know, I have asked President-Elect Trump to re-examine the evidence and to come to Fiji to meet Pacific leaders and see the impact of climate change for himself. I hope he takes me up on the offer. Because as the President of COP-23, I genuinely want to work with him on this issue in an atmosphere of friendly cooperation,” Bainimarama reiterated.

Bainimarama also took the opportunity to appeal to diplomats, NGOs and the media to help Fiji in organising COP23.

“You are fully aware of the enormity of the task ahead. And we need your support. I want to appeal to the Heads of Mission in this room to talk to your capitals about assisting Fiji. We will also be making direct representations to your respective governments and the multilateral agencies.

“I also appeal to the representatives of NGOs to work together with my Government to make the presidency of COP-23 a success. To make the outcomes practical, achievable and enduring for every global citizen.  We need to work together. All of us.

“ In the next few weeks, I will be announcing a number of appointments to the team that Fiji is building to carry out our duties at COP-23. Apart from the secretariat team in Bonn, we intend to have a dedicated secretariat here in Fiji

And to the journalists who are here today, please do everything you can in the coming months to inform the Fijian people of the crusade that we have embarked on and the progress that we make along the way," said Bainimarama.
SOURCE: PACNEWS

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