Fijian PM welcomes G20 statement on Paris Agreement

FIJIAN Prime Minister and incoming President of COP23 Voreqe Bainimarama has welcomed the statement made by G20 leaders that the ‘Paris Agreement is irreversible’ and must be fully implemented.

Last week the leaders of the world’s largest economies gathered at the G20 Summit in Germany reaffirmed their commitment to fostering clean energy development and implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“As Incoming President of COP23, I welcome the statement by the G20 Leaders who have just met in Hamburg that whatever the position of the US Government, the “Paris Agreement is irreversible” and must be fully implemented. Pacific Island Leaders’ meeting in Suva last week for our Climate Action Pacific Partnership event were looking for a strong statement from the G20 and we were pleased to get it.

“Because we cannot afford to give any ground at all on our collective plan of action, which is to limit the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5 degrees.

To do that, we need net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest. So among other things, this means every country striving to emulate France’s lead in banning petrol and diesel powered vehicles after 2040,” he said at the launch of the SDGs Photo exhibition in Suva.

Bainimarama said national governments alone cannot achieve the transformation needed.

“Which is why the Grand Coalition that Fiji is leading is so important.Because decisive climate action must also come from state and local governments throughout the world, from civil society, from business and citizens everywhere. We all have a role to play and we must play it.

“We must also put a human face on the impacts of climate change and the other SDGs. This is not some abstract thing that exists in charts and graphs. It is a real-world challenge affecting the lives and livelihoods of people around the world. Which is why an exhibition like this is so important in highlighting the urgency of implementing all of the SDGs and especially SDG 13. Because as I have said repeatedly: no sustainable development is possible without decisive action of climate change.”

He said the door is still open to US President to reverse his decision on Paris Agreement withdrawal.

“As the incoming President, I can tell you that we are going to need all the collective strength we can muster to keep these negotiations on track. To preserve the multilateral consensus for the implementation of the Paris Agreement for decisive action on climate change that was agreed at the end of 2015.

“As you all know, President Trump has – very regrettably – decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and has set the American Government on a collision course with the rest of the world over this issue.  I’m still hoping that the President will change his mind. And as I’ve said before, the door is always open for him to re-join the rest of us in staying committed to the reductions in heat-causing greenhouse gases we all agreed to in Paris.

“But in the meantime, those of us who remain committed and are leading this campaign – including me as incoming COP President – are going to stick together. Because we simply cannot afford to drop the ball on decisive climate action. Our very survival in the Pacific depends on it,” Bainimarama stressed.

Bainimarama also said that France President Emmanuel Macron had sought his support for the announcement he made this past weekend of a special summit of global Leaders, which will be held in Paris on December 12 to mark the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

“The President invited me to be there and of course, I will be. Because it will be concentrating on one of the issues that is of most concern to me as COP President – access to finance to do what vulnerable nations need to do to adapt to the terrifying new world that awaits us. To build our resilience to the rising seas levels, extreme weather events and changes to agriculture caused by climate change.

“It will be just over three weeks after COP itself in Bonn. But I agree with President Macron that we need to keep up the momentum. And the more we can focus global attention on this the better. Because as the new French Leader has said: There is no plan B other than decisive climate action because there is no Planet B.

“I very much appreciated President Macron telling me that he fully supports me in the Presidency of COP23. And that France fully supports Fiji as it builds a Grand Coalition of governments at all levels – civil society, the private sector and global citizens everywhere – to keep this process on track. I regard the new French Leader as a very important partner and we hope to forge a much closer relationship with France in the lead-up to COP and beyond,” said Bainimarama.