The Climate Reality Project - Blue Pacific to Glasgow Forum
“Climate Change is no longer an issue for debate. The science is clear. It is a matter of survival.”
Henry Puna, Secretary-General, Pacific Island Forum
By Sabrina Habu
The Blue Pacific to Glasgow Forum was hosted by the Climate Reality Project on 6 October 2021. It gave Pacific voices the opportunity to be heard on both a regional and global platform particularly in light of ambitious climate commitments at the forthcoming Glasgow COP26 climate negotiations. We were lucky enough to attend and hear from, Henry Puna, (Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum), Al Gore (Founder and Chairman of the Climate Reality Project), Frank Bainimarama, (Prime Minister, Fiji), and David Kabua, (President, Republic of the Marshall Islands).
The Stakes at Hand
Henry Puna opened the forum reminding attendees that the stakes are enormous, regardless of whether you live in the islands or a huge country, as climate change is a daily reality for all of us. It’s integral that the international community pays attention to science and nature, as failing to do so will put the entire world in jeopardy. Bainimarama echoed Puna’s sentiments stating “we are tired of re-reading our peoples suffering and applauding their resilience. We refuse to be the proverbial canaries in the world's coal mine as we are so often called! We want more for ourselves than to be helpless song birds whose demise serves as a warning to others".
1.5 Degrees and Climate Finance
Al Gore commended Pacific Leaders on their ambition to maintain an increase in global average temperatures to 1.5C target rather than 2C. Ensuring that any increase in temperature is limited to 1.5C is essential to maintaining ocean health and limiting the rise of sea levels. If temperatures rise above 2C over the global average (which they are projected to do), the viability of life in the Pacific becomes less clear as acidification, coral bleaching and desalination put pressure on global fish stocks and island economies.
Both Frank Bainimarama and Al Gore noted that substantial financial and technical assistance is required from developed countries to assist the Blue Pacific’s transition to low carbon economies and for adaptation to climate impacts. The US has already doubled its climate finance commitment, but Gore wants other nations to “follow suit as we cannot let those who contributed the least to the formation of the climate crisis suffer some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis”.
Bainimarama, went further by reminding the world of Fiji and the Pacific’s demand, that the developed world must deliver on the US 100 billion commitment of climate finance and negotiations should begin in 2025 for new financing commitments of US 750 billion dollars.
Pacific Declarations to Combat Climate Change
As Pacific leaders make demands on developed nations, they have also been re-committing their nations to some of the most ambitious declarations, including:
the 2019 Kainaki Lua Declaration which commits members to urgent climate action and in August set out a pathway to preserving maritime zones in the face of climate change related sea levels;
endorsing the Pacific Resilience Facility to aid Pacific communities in the fight against climate change. Currently, over 80% of climate finance goes to mitigation; every dollar spent upfront on resilience and preparedness saves approximately $7USD in recovery costs.
What More Can Be Done?
The climate change journey is about more than limiting carbon emissions; a lot needs to be done in a short amount of time, including:
new rules for a global carbon market are needed, taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable nations;
climate finance allocation needs to be smart; funding for adaptation must represent 60% of overall climate finance and small island developing states should have access to at least 10% of global climate flows; and
the oceans need to be put at the forefront of global thinking on climate.