Pacific leaders are concerned COP 21 will fall short
Pacific leaders say they are concerned the climate change agreement to be finalised in Paris this week will fall short on what needs to be done to deal with the impacts of global warming.
Pacific leaders say the climate change agreement to be finalised in Paris this week will likely fall short on what needs to be done to deal with the impacts of global warming.
Negotiators have put together a draft agreement, but the text is still too long and many issues remain unresolved.
They include whether the aim should be to keep global temperature rises within 1.5 or 2 degrees by the end of the century, and the details of a loss and damage provision.
Mary Baines reports.
The Tuvalu prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, says below 1.5 degrees must be the target, as anything less ambitious could seal the fate of his country.
And he says the inclusion of a loss and damage provision is imperative, despite some developed countries saying it could become a massive legal and financial headache.
"The world is dragging its feet. We must have loss and damage included in the legal agreement out of Paris. Below 1.5 degrees celcius must be the target of our efforts here. Anything less ambitious, say 2 degrees, is catastrophic and will spell out the end, the disappearance of my own country, Tuvalu."
The Pacific region is responsible for just 0.03 per cent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, but it is already feeling the effects of climate change. That includes warming oceans, drought, extreme weather events, ocean acidification and rising sea levels.
Leaders say Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands may no longer exist by the end of the century because of climate change, and people in Nauru and some islands in Fiji face displacement.
But the Cook Islands prime minister, Henry Puna, says negotiators are treating climate change as an academic issue, not one already affecting people.
"Some people are coming up with adaptation measures that tend to deflect from the seriousness of this issue. By coming up with suggestions of migration and relocation. Well with all respects, how do you leave the island or the country of your birth? It's all you've known - your language, your culture, your traditions, which goes back hundreds of years."
Mr Puna says he accepts the point that Pacific countries need to be seen to be doing something for themselves to improve climate resilience. But he says the Pacific is already doing what it can.
"I believe that we are not just environment victims, but we are also environment leaders. In the Cook Islands we have taken some very ambitious commitments. We have commitment to a 50 percent conversion to renewable energy by this year, and I am pleased to say we have done that. The other half, 100 percent, will be done by 2020. Now that is leadership."
The president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, says he knew before the talks began an ambitious agreement was unlikely.
"Unfortunately we knew coming to Paris that we are not going to get the ambitious package that scientists are telling is should be done. So actually our discussions are going below what the scientists are telling us and unfortunately we now know we are talking about 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees which is far less than what the scientists recommend needs to be done."
Mr Remengesau says whatever is agreed to must be monitored in the future to ensure all countries are fulfilling their obligations.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: