THIS year Fiji will chair the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change – COP 23 in Bonn, Germany. It is an event which is currently being touted as a major achievement for Fijian Prime Minister, Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama, and an opportunity for the Pacific community.

That it may well be. Just as former Kiribati President Anote Tong was a champion for the battle against sea level rise, so has Bainimarama taken up the climate change mantle. While the annual COP meetings are important gatherings at which critical issues to the survival of the planet are discussed, it is important that our leaders not forget the urgent work which remains at home.

The reduction of use of fossil fuels must begin with the region’s leaders and the collective government machinery of our island nations. If Pacific leaders are serious about reducing fossil fuel use, they will immediately address the size and number of vehicles used in their daily motorcades.

The bigger the vehicle, the more fuel it consumes. Our leaders – in government, the Civil Service, commerce and churches – use some of the biggest cars, an obvious sign of their status. It is to them that the community looks for an example. The region must show the world real options for making reductions in the use of fossil fuels and mitigating against climate change.

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