7 December 2019, Madrid Spain - The science rings loud and clear, pointing to the need for even greater ambitions reflected in the Nationally Determined Contributions for a 1.5 Degree world. Commitment from countries can make this happen bringing about the Paris Agreement.
The World Meterological Organization State of the Climate Report for 2019 stated that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2018, and continued to rise this year.
The results of a warmer world are scary.
Climate variability and extreme weather events are among the causes of global hunger affecting over 800 million people. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on 1.5 Degrees shows that with a 2 Degrees rise in temperature Tropical Cyclones will be more intense. In 2019 the Tropical cyclone activity globally in 2019 was slightly above average.
The Pacific islands are no strangers to Tropical Cyclones and the damage and devastation these cause.
In 2015 Tropical Cyclone Pam, a category 5, struck Vanuatu with winds at around 250km/hr and gusts peaking at 320km/hr over 165,000 people were affected by the cyclone more than half of the country’s population. Tropical Cyclone Pam destroyed food stocks and contaminated water sources.
In 2016 Tropical Cyclone Winston, also a category 5, hit Fiji inundating areas with storm surges almost 200 metres inland. Over 60% of the total population were impacted by the widespread damage and destruction.
Between 1969 and 2010 there were 41 tropical cyclones developed or crossed into the Exclusive Economic Zone of Niue. In 2004 Tropical Cyclone Heta, a category 5, caused widespread destruction, over NZD 37 million, three times the Gross Domestic Product of Niue.
All of the cyclones mentioned resulted in the loss of life.
“Niue is one of the lowest emitters, as is the Pacific islands region, and yet we are the ones that will suffer the consequences of climate change. We are a small nation that lived through Tropical Cyclone Heta – the memory of which is still strong in our minds,” said Hon Dalton Tagelagi, Minister of Natural Resources of Niue.
“The intensity of these category 5 cyclones are devastating. It is a worry for the region. We don’t want other countries to experience what we did with Tropical Cyclone Heta in 2004.”
Impacts on health, food and water security are brought about by climate-related events.
Pacific leaders have reaffirmed that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the Pacific peoples. In doing so, Pacific leaders have also reconfirmed their commitment to progress implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Climate Change has caused marine heatwaves resulting in large-scale coral bleaching events at increasing frequency causing worldwide reef degradation since 1997. These climate change impacts upon our biodiversity will have effect upon Pacific economies.
Healthy, live animals bring value to the region with shark viewing tourism in Fiji generating an annual revenue of around USD 40 million and the rich tuna resources of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean supplying 60% of the world’s tuna.
“We are here at COP25 in Madrid, advocating for our livelihoods in the sense of food security. We are surrounded by our ocean which is our number one key resources and if we start losing some of our species because of climate change it will cause a huge imbalance to us,” said Hon Minister Tagelagi.
“The big emitters must listen to the science, they must listen to our stories – because while we are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change, what is happening to us will eventually happen to the rest of the world.”
The call for stronger ambitions at COP25 are a key ask from the Pacific islands in Madrid, also on the table for negotiations from the island region is climate finance, Article 6 Markets and non-markets as well as Loss and Damage, amongst the full range of negotiation issues.
Niue is represented at the Twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid, Spain from 2 – 14 December, 2019.
The Pacific islands are showcased at COP25 through the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion a Pacific Partnership with New Zealand and Fiji. For more information please visit www.pacific-pavilion.com or download the Attendify App and search for Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, create a profile and join up!