|Premier of Niue (Left) and his delegation at UNFCCC COP 17|
Durban, South Africa, 7 December -
“I find it appalling, really appalling that we can’t make a political decision on these matters, it’s a dreadful lack of understanding of our legacy as world leaders at this moment, particularly the large countries.”- Hon. Toke Talagi, Premiere of Niue
From the Rock of Polynesia to the Cradle of Humanity, the Premier of Niue has traveled far to present a firm message at the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa.
Niue is a large upraised coral atoll in the Pacific that is home to less than 1,500 residents in 14 different village communities. For the people of Niue, like many other communities in Small Islands Developing States, the impacts of climate change are real and they are being felt now.
In 2004, Niue was struck by category 5 Cyclone Heta that caused major damage to infrastructure and agriculture estimated at NZD 37.7 million, which is close to three times the value of Niue’s GDP, highlighting Niue’s economic vulnerability to climate change.
“The politics of climate change is broken into three parts,” said the Premier of Niue, Hon. Toke Talagi.
“One is to do with the risk assessment of the information being given to us from scientists and whether it is perceived as low, medium or high. The second is in relation to risk assessment in terms of funding and the third is to do with the legacy of us Leaders at the moment with our respect to make decisions on climate change, or not.”
The Premier feels that some of the developed countries view the risk assessment as medium allowing for more time to continue the negotiations, whereas others view the risk assessment as high. It is this inability to agree that delays an outcome, continuing to disagree while the climate change problem grows worse and “nothing is done.”
The Alliance of Small Islands States has called for a Durban mandate to negotiate a new protocol under the climate convention by 2012 with ambitious mitigation goals consistent with holding warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius.
The new Protocol must include ambitious quantitative, national economy wide, legally binding targets for the developed countries not presently Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. It also means increasing the level of mitigation ambition by developing countries according to their different levels of capability and responsibility.
“We are the current cabinet of World Leaders, the legacy that we are leaving behind at this moment is the inability to make decisions that will enable us to respond to climate change and take collective action. We are not doing that therefore our legacy is unfortunately that we did nothing.”
To view all speeches made by Pacific Leaders and Ministers during the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to the Framework on Climate Change please visit: https://unfccc.int/meetings/durban_nov_2011/statements/items/6584.php