Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pacific leaders not giving up on climate pact

View the webcast of the full Pacific Leaders Press Conference above

By Stanley Simpson, Climate Pasifika Media

8 December Cancun, Mexico - leaders today pledged to strongly continue efforts for a new UN framework agreement on climate change – although there is growing acceptance that countries may not come away from Cancun, Mexico with a legally binding agreement.

The leaders of four Pacific island nations held a joint press conference in Cancun to reiterate the urgency for an agreement - and the need for effective mitigation and adaptation facilities that will help them address climate change issues they are already grappling with.

Present were Nauru president Marcus Stephens, Kiribati President Anote Tong, Samoa prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Federated States of Micronesia vice president Alik Alik.

Nauru’s president Stephen noted that Pacific island countries had gone to Copenhagen last year with big expectations but that climate change conference was a big failure and a big let down.

“However we will continue to attend these meetings – even though there has been some level of downgrading,” he said.

Kiribati president Tong also noted that most Pacific countries did not sign the Copenhagen Accord as it fell short of the minimum requirements they were calling for – however subsequently associated themselves with the accord on the premise that it would trigger the flow of funds toward adaptation.

“Until now that has not happened, despite the very generous pledges that had been made in Copenhagen and since. That has been one of the biggest disappointments.”

Tong said Pacific countries needed the funds now as climate change was not an issue for the future, but an issue they were facing now.

“We are witnessing our homes being washed away, our coastlines eroded, and heavy damage to properties and livelihood,” he said.

He adds there does not seem to be any international will for an agreement, and that is the challenge small island states are grappling with.

“We continue to believe there is an opportunity for an agreement but are coming to accept that perhaps we may not come away from Cancun with a legally binding agreement.”

“However we want to make it very clear that there are important and very urgent issues we can agree on such as the adaptation fund,” Tong said.

Samoan prime minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi urged world leaders to look more at the implementation phase – and not spend too much time talking while islands were being washed away.

Vice president Alik of FSM also pointed out that climate change issues were at a crisis stage for many small island states – and action was needed now with adequate resources needed quickly for adaptation and mitigation.

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