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Pacific Must Continue to Lead Climate Action

Pacific Must Continue to Lead Climate Action After Historic Signing Ceremony

Friday 22nd April, SUVA, FIJI. Today more than 150 world leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York to reaffirm their formal commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change in the largest ever signing ceremony of its kind. This event, held on Earth Day, was a big collective step towards implementing the global climate treaty, and all of the 14 Pacific Island countries were present to sign on behalf of their countries.

Climate vulnerable nations, like the Pacific islands states led by Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands, further accelerated the process of turning the Paris Agreement into meaningful action by presenting the UN with their plans for endowing the agreement with legal force at the national level.

“It is positive to see increasing support for climate action and momentum building behind the Paris Agreement, especially the leadership being shown by the Pacific island nations. Fiji is the first country in the world to pass parliamentary decision to ratify the agreement and submit the ratification instruments while Papua New Guinea is the first country to submit its national adaptation plans under the Paris Agreement. We commend the Pacific governments and stand with them in ensuring that our region survives this pressing challenge of climate change”, said Mr. Krishneil Narayan, the Coordinator of Pacific Islands Climate Action Network.

Since the Paris Agreement was forged in December 2015 all continents have experienced the extreme conditions increasingly wrought by climate change including: record-breaking cyclones in the Pacific, record-breaking global temperatures, deadly heatwaves in India, drought in southern Africa and Vietnam, and coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef.

“After the signing the Agreement, Governments around the world have to roll up their sleeves and get to work aligning national climate and development policies with the 1.5oC degree warming threshold which requires a swift and just transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy as well as concerted efforts to bolster the global climate agreement itself”, says Mr. Narayan.

There are a number of opportunities this year for the Pacific island countries to boost national, regional and international climate action.

The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) is exploring with the Pacific government officials, communities and development partners the concept of a ‘Pacific Climate Treaty’ that could potentially become a regional framework for climate change action to implement the all the key areas of the Paris Agreement among the Pacific island states and territories. The proposed Pacific Climate Treaty will encompass all key areas of the Paris Agreement including mitigation, finance, litigation, climate induced migration, loss and damage, gender, human rights and adaptation needs of the region.

“We are looking at a number of options, including a Pacific Climate Treaty that has the potential to become a model for other regions in the world. Discussions are underway with various state and non-state actors. Earlier this month, we submitted the concept proposal to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for consideration under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.”, revealed Mr. Narayan.

There is also the call for a moratorium on new coal mines in the region, especially in Australia, through the No New Coal Mines campaign supported vigorously by the former President of Kiribati H.E. Honorable Anote Tong and other Pacific leaders together with PICAN.

Mr. Narayan highlights that while regional and national action plans are vital, equally important is that the efforts of the Paris Agreement implementation are meaningfully translated through to all individuals and communities in the Pacific; that they are in line with the globally agreed new 2030 Agenda and human rights commitments of governments; and that they must be included as equal partners in the process.

PICAN plays a valuable role in ensuring that the national, regional and international actions articulate the needs of diverse remote, rural and urban grassroots communities through our members working across the Pacific region.

PICAN is a regional network of 30 non-governmental organizations, coalitions, social movements, and educational institutions from the Pacific who work to address climate change and sustainable development goals. PICAN is the Pacific regional node of the Climate Action Network International, which has a membership of over 950 NGOs in more than 110 countries – the largest climate network in the world.

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