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Tongan MP attends “Climate Parliament” for Pacific Islands

Tongan MP attends “Climate Parliament” for Pacific Island legislators

The need to look at issues in a new way was the theme of an International Parliamentary Hearing for Pacific Island Legislators in Lautoka, Fiji recently. The theme has relevance for Tonga as it goes through a political reform process that aims to make the country more democratic under a new Prime Minister.

Legislators in any country are the ones in a position to effect change and in this instance the huge change required in-order to tackle the very real energy and climate change issues facing the world today. Unfortunately, the majority of capacity building and training courses on these issues are targeted at government officials and not at educating legislators.

This hearing brought together 26 delegates, including Members of Parliament, Ministers, parliamentary assistants and regional and international experts on renewable energy, to discuss the threat of climate change to the Pacific’s low-lying island countries and the great potential of renewable energy in a region that is currently highly dependent on imported fossil fuels.

The hearing, funded by the European Commission, Oxfam Novib and Sida, was organised by the “Climate Parliament”, a Non-Governmental Organisation whose primary aim is advocating clean energy access for all and starting the discussion on making energy a top priority in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Its strategy to achieve this is to foster discussion among legislators in ACP countries by holding meetings designed to educate and stimulate action.

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The hearing in Lautoka, Fiji, was the eighth in a series of nine on climate change and energy access for the poor, for legislators from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions.

Tongan parliamentarian

Attending from Tonga was a Member of Parliament, Sunia Fili (recently re-elected) who engaged in discussions with other parliamentarians and cabinet ministers from around the region on issues ranging from energy efficiency and solar power plants, to more effective donor policy and increasing the access of rural communities to electricity.

The primary strategies that were discussed to meet these problems were all in-line with or had already been superseded with activities currently underway under the TERM. A number of parallel activities that were outlined included:
• The use of existing technology right away;
• The use of Energy efficiency measures;
• Develop policy incentives and clear regulation.

A key issue on the agenda was how Pacific Island Countries (PICs) can finance the large investments that are needed to power the islands with green technologies. It is in this area where the “Road Map Approach” aims to unify donor run programs under one plan in-order to achieve tangible results on the ground.


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