Pacific leaders renew urgent calls for ambitious and legally binding agreement

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Paris amplifying the Pacific Voice at COP21

30 November 2015, Paris, France, COP21 - Nauru's President Baron Waqa has pleaded with world leaders, especially those from developed nations not to 'choose safety over suffering.'

Instead, he's asked the more than 160 world leaders here in Paris for the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) of the UN climate change body to choose wisely and agree to an ambitious and legally binding agreement.
President Waqa, representing a nation with a population of just over 10,000 people, said his people and those from other small island developing states in the Pacific 'will become the first to pay the price' of the wrath of climate change.

"After years of excess and wilful ignorance, the climate bill has finally come due. Who will pay?

Right now, it is being paid by the poorest and the most vulnerable."

He said Nauru and other small and vulnerable nations in the Pacific are paying through droughts that have destroyed their livelihoods and the record cyclones that have stolen their lives.

"We see a small toll exacted every day as our shorelines are slowly eroded. Larger payments are made when the foundation of our marine ecosystems are bleached away," President Waqa told world leaders at the High Level Segment of COP21, which started at Le Bourget in Paris Monday.

Attempting not to sound a victim of climate change, the Nauruan leader said solutions can be found in investing in a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future.

"Countries and communities around the world are demonstrating that a better life – a good life – is possible."

"Investing in clean energy not only reduces emissions but also improves public health but also saves money and climate."

"Commitments by 170 countries through their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) signals the readiness of countries through national actions to address impacts of climate change."

The Nauru leader urged the powerful and rich nations to 'step-up' and put more resources to adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

"I urge you to leave Paris with solidarity and with an ambitious and legally binding agreement."

His remarks were echoed by the Samoa Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in his statement at the High Level Leaders Session.

Samoa as a Small Island Developing State stands with other SIDS and vulnerable nations in calling for global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees.

"It is an ideal and moral goal to save planet earth. The agreement here in Paris must be durable with principled actions. It must also have a strong sense of ownership from all Parties to meet the commitments they make here in Paris," said PM Tuilaepa.

Citing one of the impacts of climate change in the Pacific every year – the Samoan leader said Tropical Cyclone Tuni is currently moving towards islands in the region, 'and we can expect many more during this cyclone season.'
"The devastation of these cyclones are a major setback to our economic development," said PM Tuilaepa.

In his address, Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced that his government joins 150 other countries in calling for a strong and effective global agreement at the end of COP21.

He reiterated Australia's support to build resilience of Small Island Developing States in the Pacific that are at the frontline of the climate change, through practical actions.

Turnbull announced that Canberra will provide $1 billion over five years to help build resilience of Pacific Island nations and reduce emissions.

Australia also announced that it will ratify the second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol. - #4PacIslands
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