5 Sep 2013

Pacific leaders put out climate change declaration as summit ends

8:25 pm on 5 September 2013

Fourteen Pacific leaders have agreed in Majuro to demonstrate climate leadership through action that contributes to the urgent reduction and phase down of greenhouse gas pollution.

The Majuro Declaration is light on details, but will be presented to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the General Assembly later this month by the Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak.

He wants it to contribute to his efforts to catalyse ambitious climate action and mobilise political will for a legally-binding climate change agreement by 2015.

The Forum secretary general Tuiloma Neroni Slade explains what they aim to achieve.

"So this is a declaration of responsibility. They have pledged to commit themselves as climate leaders and to demonstrate this leadership by attaching in this declaration what each is doing as part of their commitment to ameliorate emissions."

The Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., whose country was chosen to host next year's summit, says in the true spirit of Pacific culture, harsh words or demands were not used in the call for climate action.

But Mr Remengesau says the issue is about the region's very survival and sustainability as a people.

This favourite phrase for the week 'a bottoms up approach and a top down approach, it has got to complement each other. We have got to do things that are within our own capabilities domestically, in order to adapt to climate change and we have to better engage and improve our partnership with the developed countries and donor partners.

Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, says he wants to see the Declaration received at the highest level of the UN so that a legally binding framework can be put in place by 2015.

In other major actions, Forum leaders are expected to invite Fiji to rejoin the organisation after elections are held next September, the first since a military coup in 2006.

Mr Slade again:

It is the expectation leaders that there will be free and fair elections and upon that happening in Fiji they will revisit their decision to suspend.

The leaders also condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and called upon the United Nations to hold those accountable responsible as Mr Slade explains.

They (the leaders) had decided it was appropriate and necessary to send to the United Nations a message of concern. Equal concern to other countries who have expressed similar feelings in support for the people of Syria and calling for accountability with what has happened recently with the use of chemical weapons.

Cuba has been invited to become the 15th Forum dialogue partner, while a decision on accepting Spain was deferred until next year's Forum.

The leaders also endorsed a UN Special Rapporteur's report on nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands that calls on the United States government to pay over two billion US dollars in awards for nuclear-affected islanders.

The Forum communique says the U.S. and United Nations have ongoing obligations to encourage a final and just resolution for the Marshallese.