20 Apr 2020

Climate action required in 2020 must continue says Forum

9:24 am on 20 April 2020

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum says countries need to understand the connectivity between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

Dame Meg Taylor's comments come after Tropical Cyclone Harold swept through four Pacific nations, killing dozens, destroying hundreds of houses and disrupted lives.

With the region in the midst of a Covid-19 crisis, Dame Meg said the cyclone was a clear example that climate change-induced disasters can exacerbate the pandemic in Pacific.

Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor

Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor Photo: RNZI Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Dame Meg said the public health emergency and its ensuing humanitarian and economic fallout offers a glimpse of what the global climate change emergency can become if left unchecked.

She said while the 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP 26, has been deferred to next year due to Covid-19, the global community must not delay the necessary climate action required in 2020.

The secretary general said the pursuit to limit temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius must continue.

She said the pandemic offers an opportunity to consider climate-smart response and recovery measures, "over the months and years to come, economies will recover.

This is a chance for nations to plan better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and to shape 21st century economies and societies in ways that are healthy, clean, safe and more resilient."

Dame Meg said the pandemic and the climate change crises are cross-cutting with both needing a holistic and whole-of-government approach.