Sep 20, 2018 Last Updated 4:57 AM, Sep 13, 2018

CLOSE to a year after COP23 in Bonn and the Pacific-led talks on climate change, atoll communities are no closer to a solution to the danger posed by rising sea levels.

According to the United States Geological Survey most atolls will be uninhabitable by 2030.

If that is true in the Pacific, Kiribati, Tokelau, Tuvalu and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will no longer exist in just over a decade. Even if they will exist, it is unlikely that they will be able to support human habitation.

Yet the global community has made no significant progress to enact laws or conventions which will allow for a possible 500,000 displaced people to receive justice and move to host countries with dignity.

Despite Fijian Prime Minister, Rear Admiral (Retired) Frank Bainimarama, assuming the chair of the world’s lead climate change event, no real progress was made to ensure that Pacific concerns were placed at the fore in Bonn.

Instead, the event became a showcase for Fijian culture and its national development plan.

No consultations were held prior to the summit with the leaders of the atoll communities who stand at the frontline of climate change – rising sea levels, disappearing coastlines, salt water intrusion into water tables, drought and loss of crops.

Even during the three-week COP23 event, consultation and discussion between Pacific delegations was virtually non-existent, despite approaches from Tuvaluan Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, to the presidency.

Tuvalu’s diplomats reported to their PM that Bainimarama drank yaqona (kava) with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and sent Agriculture Minister, Inia Seruiratu, to meet Sopoaga.

Faced with limited options, Sopoaga enlisted the support of former Kiribati President, Anote Tong.

Together, the men – now known at the Pacific’s climate warriors – fronted a summit on Funafuti to address the plight of small island states, particularly atolls, in the fight against global warming.

Sopoaga is intent on placing a resolution at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly to protect people affected by climate change.

The resolution will be based on the Warsaw International Mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, including extreme events and slow onset events.

Loss and Damage Mechanism fulfills the role under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change of promoting implementation of approaches to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change in a comprehensive,  integrated and coherent manner.

Speaking in Tuvalu in June, Sopoaga said his country and other Pacific atolls were suffering the consequences of the carbon emissions of large nations.

“We must have a system in which the polluter pays – we cannot let them off the hook and we must continue to espouse this position,’’ he said.

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By NETANI RIKA

NEW Zealand Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, will speak to a public seminar in Fiji tomorrow (Wednesday) on working together as a region.

His address at the University of the South Pacific will be entitled He Waka Eke Noka (We’re All in This Together).

Shaw is in Fiji to attend the Climate Action Pacific Partnership event which begins on Thursday in Suva.

Organised by the Fijian COP23 Presidency, it is the second conference following the inaugural event in July 2017.

In March, technical experts met in Fiji

Issues addressed at CAPP will include agriculture, forests and Land use; oceans; water; health; gender and climate justice; climate financing; low carbon development; integrating Disaster Risk Reduction, climate change adaptation and Sustainable development; and decent work and just transition.

The event will create a platform to exchange ideas, technologies, innovations, experiences and challenges among various sectors and stakeholders.

It will also help to initiate, implement and accelerate climate action in the Pacific, strengthen partnerships and collaboration between governments, the private sector, investors, civil society groups and sub-national agencies.

The CAPP conference is expected to involve songs and stories intended to evoke discussions on innovative and transformative approaches to address the need for urgent climate action and investment to reach net-zero emissions.

The overall aim of the conference is to help mobilise the partnerships and investment needed to accelerate climate action in the Pacific, in support of the more ambitious target of keeping global temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees Celsius and to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible.  

COP23 $9m Presidency

By Anish Chand

"External professional services" was the highest expenditure for the COP23 Presidency of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama as revealed in the COP23 Trust Fund account report that was tabled in Parliament this week.

F$8,686,717 was used for this service.

External professional services are described as “presidency services” in the accounts. These included strategic advice, negotiations support, capacity building, logistical support, communication and documentation drafting.

Australia contributed the largest sum of money to the COP23 Trust Fund, of about F$9.16m.

As at October 2017, with total donations of F$25,010, 641 and with an expenditure of F$11,599,245, the Fund had a surplus balance of F$13,411,396.

Period of focus in the COP23 Trust Fund Account report were May to October 2017. Tabling of its financial results is required under the COP23 Trust Fund Act of 2017.

The report reveals the accounting firm of KPMG had seconded a senior accountant to be the Manager Finance of the COP23 Fund, a responsibility which now has been taken over by the Ministry of Economy.

In addition to Australia, other major donors to the Fund were the European Union (F$4.79m), Italy (F$2.36m), India (F$2.03) and New Zealand ($F$1.89).

The financial report also provided other breakdown of its F$12m expenditure.

F$1,733,284 was used for organising conferences. The Pre-COP meeting that was held in Nadi incurred an expense of F$1,319,085.

F$727,815 was used in travel expenses for seven events. The highest amount of $F309,129 was incurred for the 23rd Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). F$287,327 was used in travel for Bonn UNFCCC.

Funds for the national climate change week that was held Fiji wide was sourced from the COP23 Trust Fund to a tune of F$167,538.

F$108,148 was used to run the COP23 Secretariat in Suva.

The account also reveals that the UNFCCC funded some of the COP23 Presidency expenses which included travel, per-diems and accommodation for most of the Fijian delegation to UNFCC meetings.

Fiji success at COP23

NATIONS agreed on November 18 to launch the next steps towards higher climate action ambition before 2020 at the close of the annual UN climate conference or COP23 held in the German city of Bonn.

Backed by a wide range of positive announcements from governments, cities, states, regions, companies and civil society, delegates from over 190 countries agreed to a 12-month engagement focusing on ‘where are we, where do we want to go and how do we get there?’ The ‘Talanoa Dialogue’, inspired by the Fijian concept of constructive discussion, debate and story-telling, will set the stage in Poland in 2018 for the revising upwards of national climate action plans needed to put the world on track to meet pre-2020 ambition and the long-term goals of the two-year old Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement’s central goal is keep the global average temperature rise below 2 Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5—the lower limit is deemed crucial for survival by many small islands and vulnerable countries. Over one degree of this rise has already occurred since pre-industrial times. The current set of national climate action plans, known as NDCs, are still heading for a path towards 3 Celsius, possibly more.

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DUST collects on the floor of the village shop. The door is locked, the windows shut tight and a collection of guttering, plastic pipes, nuts bolts, screws and nails are piled on the counter and the shelves. Outside the shop, grass has overgrown the cement culverts and drains which arrived over two years ago and are too heavy for the villagers to lift without the necessary machinery or lay without engineering expertise.

This is Vunidogoloa Village in Cakaudrove, the poster child for Fiji’s climate change relocation initiative. Last month Fiji’s military strongmanturned climate change champion, Commodore Frank Bainimarama told the United Nations his nation would issue a US$50 million “green” bond in coming weeks to help combat the effects of global climate change, the first developing country to do so.

Lauded by economists and climate change advocates, this financial ingenuity is expected to take the global green bond market to an estimated US$134.9million this year. According to a summary released by Fiji and the World Bank, Fiji’s bonds will be available in five- and 13-year maturities from November 1and pay coupons of four per cent and 6.3 per cent.

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Guide to the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting – Nauru 2018

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