“You don’t need my pain or tears to know that we’re in a crisis”: Fruen

Brianna Fruen

The COP26 climate conference is underway in Glasgow. Here are highlights from the opening day.

Young Samoan climate change activist Brianna Fruen made a powerful statement on the opening day of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, calling on leaders for bold action.

“I don’t need to remind you of the reality of vulnerable communities. If you are here today, you know what climate change is doing to us.  You don’t need my pain or my tears to know that we’re in a crisis.

The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing. To wield the right words and to follow it up with long-overdue action,” Fruen told world leaders.

Past seven years set to be warmest on record, sea levels at new high

Record greenhouse gas concentrations have pushed the planet into uncharted territory, with repercussions likely for current and future generations, warned the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

The past seven years are on track to be the seven warmest ever, according to the provisional WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report, based on data for the first nine months of the year.

WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas says “extreme events are the new norm.” 

“No matter what they call them, carbon emissions are wrecking the climate”: Bainimarama

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has again stressed the urgency for climate change action at COP26.

 “Clean coal, responsible natural gas, and ethical oil are all figments of the selfish mind. No matter what they call them, carbon emissions are wrecking the climate. There’s nothing clean, natural or ethical about it,” said the Fijian leader.

 “Other leaders pursue a policy of appeasement. They sit idly by as their high-emitting counterparts destroy our children’s futures. The science is clear, ladies and gentlemen, no city, no community, and no ecosystem will be spared from the reckoning that lies beyond 1.5 degrees of warming, including our oceans, the lungs of the planet.”

 Two other Pacific leaders in Scotland, Prime Minister Kausea Natano of Tuvalu and President Surangel Whipps Jr of Palau will speak later in the week.

“Save our ocean, save ourselves, our children and our future”: Pune

Pacific Ocean Commissioner and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General,  Henry Puna has called on everyone to work together to save the ocean, save ourselves, our children and our future. “This is our legacy.”

 Puna made the remarks at the High level launch of the ‘Third Because the Ocean Declaration’ that was held at the University of Edinburgh on Sunday, as part of the COP26 event.

 “We must maintain the health, productivity and resilience of our ocean and its ecosystems. The Pacific Islands Forum leaders have committed to responsibly and effectively manage 100 percent of the Blue Pacific Ocean within and beyond national jurisdictions based on the best available scientific information and traditional knowledge. 

In August, Forum Leaders endorsed a declaration to preserve maritime zones in the face of climate related sea level rise.

Puna said this declaration represents the region’s formal collective view on how UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules on maritime zones apply in the situation of climate change-related sea-level rise.

 “It is rooted in the Convention’s underpinning legal principles, in particular those of stability, security, certainty and predictability. In essence, the declaration affirms that whether or not sea levels are rising, once maritime boundaries are set and deposited with the UN Secretary General, they shall not be altered. 

 “Our Declaration is a landmark instrument that will shape international thinking. It will put our region at the heart of international discussions to resolve this global issue. While the issue is of fundamental importance to our Blue Pacific continent, other Coastal States and countries in similar fashion require stability, security, certainty and predictability of their maritime zones. I call on all your countries to support the Declaration as a practical and considered solution to address a very complex and dire consequence of climate change,” Puna said at the launch. 

Disappearing islands force Tuvalu to demand compensation from world polluters

Tuvalu’s disappearing islands has led to the tiny Pacific nation to sue major developed nations for the severe damage caused by climate change.

Tuvalu and Antigua and Barbuda signed a pact Sunday to hold large nations accountable for climate change damage.

Tuvalu’s Minister of Finance and Climate Change, Seve Paeniu in an interview with PACNEWS said the issue of Loss and Damage is very important for his island nation.

“We are all here for one purpose and that is to raise climate ambition. Tuvalu and small island states in the Pacific are living the reality of the impact of climate change.

“Our islands are sinking and therefore we would like the international community to support us to save our livelihoods, our culture and our people. 

“The islands are disappearing in Tuvalu, so the issue of loss and damage is very critical and very important for us and we wish the international community and industrialised world in particular to compensate for the loss and disappearing in the sinking of our lands,” Paeniu told PACNEWS.

Paeniu said the agreement establishes a Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law that will be tasked with developing and implementing fair and just global environmental norms and practices.  

“We also are working on a new initiative that aims to get the polluter to compensate and pay the Pacific Island nations that are being affected due to sea level rise in particular. It is an initiative co- sponsored jointly by Antigua Barbuda and Tuvalu.

 “To establish a commission on SIS on climate change and international law, our objective and our aim is to set a precedence in law where emitting countries would be responsible to compensate for the loss and damage that are inflicted on Small Island States such as Tuvalu.

 “That initiative only requires two countries to sign an agreement or declaration and that would be than recognised under the international tribunal on the Law of the Sea and eventually that we aim to raise that as a platform for the International Court of Justice to advocate for the plight of the sinking islands,” said Paeniu.

 Paeniu who is also the Pacific Islands Forum political champion for Loss and Damage is advocating the region’s priorities and influence decision-making in calling for urgent climate action.

Former Pacific leaders call for rapid climate action

A group of former Pacific Island nation leaders is calling for “urgent and rapid action to ensure that the global temperature does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” because of the “grim” threat to small island states.

The newly-formed Pacific Elders Voice group made the call in a statement to COP26 delegates.  The group includes Hilde Heine — former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tommy Remengesau Jr, former President of Palau, Anote Tong, former President of the Republic of Kiribati, Enele Sopoaga, former Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Dame Meg Taylor, former secretary-general of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and Robert Underwood, former Member of United States Congress and president of the University of Guam.

The Pacific elders also urged the G20 leaders to commit to a new Marshall Plan for Climate Change action to decarbonise the global economy and provide financial support to the most impacted by the impacts of climate change.

The former leaders also called on the G20 to commit to the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, saying the future of the Pacific depends on a renewable energy economy.