Be angry, be strategic, Pacific climate negotiators urged

Noelene Nabulivou

“I just wanted to say that sometimes a united voice means that you can also genuinely, assertively be angry.”

These were strong words from Fijian activist and political adviser for Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA), Noelene Nabulivou, during the Pacific Climate Justice Summit 2022 last week.

The regional summit, hosted by the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), included strong messages for next month’s COP27 climate talks in Egypt.

Representatives to that meeting, says Nabulivou, need to have clear positions in the ‘midline’ and ‘back’ positions, as well as “red lines where we won’t compromise as delegations, because we’ve already clearly set boundaries.”

She said while “there is flexibility to move dependent on political will,” it’s important “that we’re listening deeply to each other, so we’re not just mouthing text and developing it quickly.”

Climate change remains the greatest threat to Pacific islanders, affecting their livelihoods, security, and well-being. Despite the various COP summits and global commitments, the pace and scale of action towards achieving the 1.5 degree global greenhouse gas emission target by 2030 is insufficient, and on current projections, unlikely to be met.

During the summit, former Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, spoke at length about his experience at the negotiation table.

He described the various dialogue and consultations on the important concept of loss and damage, technology, and capacity building.

Sopoaga said, “This is what is happening already in the process of climate. We have to be wary of these fancy languages, blue carbon, blue Pacific, and so on. We have to be fully conversant and wary of these.

“For loss and damage, there are a series of conspiracies going on. For example, we have the Santiago dialogue process. All this is an attempt to pollute the waters, “he said.

Sopoaga reiterated the importance of placing the spotlight on the two fronts going to COP27. One is the immediate and urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to be reached by 2030. He said, “We need to push this ambition as strongly as possible.”

“The OPEC countries will respond by saying ‘Yes’, but we also need a response measures to the loss of the economies by cutting down emission, We have to bear this in mind, as a tactful and smart negotiator.”

Sopoanga continued: “I think it is our time to put this on the table, that the whole world, the United Nations Secretary General must convene as urgently as possible a world summit on Loss and Damage—The process of COP is no longer able to do that.”

Last year, the Pacific Climate Justice Summit produced a list of Pacific Demands which highlighted the region’s priorities and key policies that led up to COP26 in Glasgow. This year’s summit brought together key actors from grassroot communities to development partners to exchange ideas that will once again amplify the needs of the Pacific in Egypt.

Noelene Nabulivou’s call to action? “Be ready to stand your ground, be still and unmoving against the tide, even if that tide is really loud and is really working against us. We’ve done it many times, and we can do it at COP27.”