Robinson urges continued unity from region over climate change
The United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change Mary Robinson says the Suva Declaration on Climate Change will help create a sense of urgency for the upcoming climate talks in Paris.
She has been attending the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Fiji where Pacific island countries have been coming up with a position to take to crucial UN climate change talks in Paris in November.
MARY ROBINSON: I must say I am impressed here in Suva with the determination and the sense of urgency, and of the heads of state and government and ministers who are represented here and of the civil society and business, I think everyone seems to share a common understanding, which is understandable. You really do get that sense of the reality of climate change from the impacts it's having on small Pacific Islands, and that came through very clearly. I have certainly encouraged them to continue the discussions in the outcomes of next week's meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby, because I think there must be a complementarity between the two fora, and then they must take that political message to New York for the special session in September, and then on from there to Lima on climate finance to the G20 and to the commonwealth meeting. Because we need political leadership at the highest level now in the run-up to Paris.
SALLY ROUND: What do you think is the significance of this particular meeting, and the Suva Declaration which I understand has just been signed?
MR: The significance I think is that this is a forum where the Pacific Islands can come together with their leadership at the highest level but also their civil society and business and forge a declaration as they have done, and also adopt a charter as they did today. So I think it's a forum that seems to have come of age and I believe that's positive.
SR: And the Suva Declaration itself, is that going to be of much use?
MR: It's a strong declaration. I mean it very specifically refers to the need to stay below 1.5 of global warming and you know, it makes strong statements on the need to end fossil fuels and so on. But it's what you would expect given the existential threats that are faced by a number of the countries, like Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, et cetera. This is their voice.
SR: Do you think the industrialised nations are going to sit up and take notice?
MR: I think they would probably have a good sense that this is a strong statement of urgency and that the Pacific Islands are unhappy with the lack of progress in the world, and the fact that this is hurting them. That may help to create a greater sense of urgency. Of course there will still have to be the hard-nose negotiation. And at the moment under the Cancun formula the world has decided that we must not go above two degrees but also should leave open the possibility of coming to 1.5. And I would imagine that at the end of the day, that is probably what they will be faced with as part of the negotiation. But it's good in many ways that their voice is very clear, and their determination is very evident, that the world needs to know the situation that they are in. And the Prime Minister quoted me very forcefully after I had spoken ahead of him at the closing ceremony and said Mary Robinson is right to see this as a human rights issue.
SR: Now as you mention this the Pacific Islands Forum next week, and we have Australia and New Zealand there. Now they diverge quite significantly from the Pacific Island countries in what they're aiming for in terms of emissions reduction. Is this going to cause problems do you think?
MR: I certainly hope there won't be a sense of real divergence. I would prefer the world complementarity, which is a word that has been used here, that there can be complementarity between the two fora. And I think that's the spirit in which the heads of states and government are going from here. That this is another opportunity and this time, with New Zealand and Australia taking part - to continue to ensure that the concerns of small island developing states are heard. And it may be that there will be some difference in some of the language used but I would very much hope that it won't be in any sense seen as a rift, because I think that would be quite unhelpful. And I think what we need at this stage is to enable the small islands developing states to get their strong voice out in the various fora that they have available to them and ensure that this can be addressed in the negotiations and that they have an opportunity, because we are looking for a fair, equitable agreement.
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