3 Sep 2013

Tuvalu calls for less talk and more action over climate change

4:27 pm on 3 September 2013

The prime minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, says it is time for the talking to stop and for action to be taken to arrest climate change.

Mr Sopoaga, speaking ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Majuro in the Marshall Islands says all the world is aware of the plight of the low lying nations such as Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, but nothing is being done. He spoke to Gif Johnson.

ENELE SOPOAGA: So we can no longer continue to just keep on talking. We really have to do actions. And I think the convention itself is very clear - the polluter pays and all those principles and also its articles for industrialised countries to help those who are most vulnerable. And we haven't started to do that. We're still talking about what actions to do. We're already talking about relocations. I think these things about relocations are totally utopian. They should never be discussed at this level. It should never be an option because it's self-defeating in itself. For Tuvalu, I think we really need to mobilise public opinion in the Pacific, as well as in the world, to really talk to the law-makers to please have some sort of moral obligation and things like that to do the right thing. So that's basically what I was referring to.

GIF JOHNSON: You've also said that you really haven't seen, even though there have been a lot of pledges of funding for climate change, that in Tuvalu you really haven't seen any of these bearing fruit.

ENELE SOPOAGA: We haven't seen that. I personally haven't seen that. Because erosion of the vital land continues. And a lot of people have lost their lands and there's no insurance coverage, no mechanism to address the loss and damages to the fundamental livelihood of the people. Adaptations of funding from GF are there, from the Kyoto Protocol CDM process, of course, through the Adaptation Fund. But there is no access to this funding for small island countries. You probably need, in Tuvalu, to spend one whole year to write papers, to write reports, to run workshops, to get consultancies in order to come out with a bankable project proposal. This is unacceptable while the land keeps on being eroded, so we have to do better than that. And I think instead of talking about paradoxical utopian options we really have to work on the concrete adaptation measures and also on cutting down emissions. I think it's very, very simple. We only need to have political leadership at the global level to push this through. And we certainly hope the very next cope 19 should be very decisive on this and agree on some sort of arrangement for the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol. That's the only way we can have globally agreed targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. So we hope we can continue to push and make our voices heard at the international level. The SIS out of the forum here in Majuro must stick together and send this clear message, and perhaps work as a team, as well, in the context of the core processes. We cannot afford to talk about that here in the Pacific, and when it comes to the core processes we keep silent. There are far, far too low common denominators eroded by interest in various groups. I think the Pacific SIS, like Marshall Islands, like Tuvalu, Kiribati, must stand together and reassess the risks of this climate change to our lives. And that's the message I want to see coming out of Majuro.