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Glasgow Cop26 and the impact on Pacific Islands: The wrap up

  • In the end, disappointingly, countries compromised to "phase down" rather than "phase out" coal, weakening the commitment to get rid of coal and giving those who want continued use of the polluting fuel the “green light” for ongoing coal mine developments, exports and new power plants. While this is the first ever climate deal to explicitly address reducing coal, unfortunately the compromise makes the path to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees a fragile one, placing Pacific Island nations in serious existential threat. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the planet was "hanging by a thread". "We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe... it is time to go into emergency mode - or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero."

  • The realities of COVID meant that leaders from only 3 Pacific countries could attend the COP26 summit in person. President of Palau Surangel Whipps Jr said this left a noticeable “void” in representation of vulnerable island nations at the summit.

  • Videos like that of Tuvalu law maker Simon Kofe delivering a speech on the climate crisis his country faces, knee deep in rising seas, made for powerful (and viral) digital media content to capture the rest of the world’s attention.

  • More than 100 world leaders pledged to end and reverse deforestation of the planet by 2030. In spite of their negligible impact on total greenhouse gas emissions, rates of deforestation caused by commercial logging in some Pacific Island nations such as Papau New Guinea and Solomon Islands are vastly unsustainable. Reforestation is also important to reversing desertification and habitat loss, which if left unchecked will speed up climate change.”

  • Many leaders, including Australian PM Scott Morrison hailed emerging technologies and reliance on green energy such as hydrogen and hydroelectricity schemes as key tools to reduce CO2 emissions. However, these projects (some of which are greenlit for development in PNG and Solomon Islands) rely on the construction of massive dams to harvest water, which lead to the destruction of forests, ecosystems and sites of cultural importance.

  • At COP15 in 2009 world leaders promised to deliver $100 billion in climate finance programs per year by 2020. However, at COP26 the OECD released its Climate Finance Delivery Plan that indicated the world had not achieved that goal, and would likely not achieve it until 2023 at the earliest. Climate finance is integral to reducing the cost of climate change on Pacific Island nations with every $1 of finance issue attributing at least $7 in savings.


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