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High hopes for Pacific but hard work still required

Light at the end of climate change tunnel

Monday 19 November saw a Pacific High-Level Dialogue on climate change take place at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia. The principal guest was Francoise Hollande, President of France, who attended the dialogue to discuss the pressing issue of climate change with leaders from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and other Pacific nations. The dialogue was an historic occasion on the road to the crucially important Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris in December 2015. Referred to as ‘COP 21’ this meeting expects to see the international community commit to new, legally binding targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The importance of this process for humanity and for the Pacific region especially cannot be understated. Not one to mince his words, SPC’s Director-General, Colin Tukuitonga, told the gathering in Noumea: ‘COP 21 needs to deliver appropriate commitments to support developing countries with extreme vulnerability and very limited capacity to cope. Failure to do so will basically relegate the Pacific to oblivion. For us, here, climate change is a very real and very human emerging crisis.

We must aim for at least a 40 per cent reduction in global emissions by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2060 if we are to have any hope of containing climate change to manageable levels. Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialised nations committed to modest binding emission reduction targets. But the reality is that global emissions are now 30 per cent higher than they were when Kyoto was signed,’ he said. President Hollande saw light at the end of the tunnel. France will chair the upcoming COP 21 and he is determined to achieve a robust outcome. Speaking in Noumea, he said, ‘I am here because the situation is urgent and we must be successful, this is an appeal for mobilisation that I am launching.’

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