2 December 2019, Madrid, Spain - Climate change was at the core of a roundtable discussion today by world leaders on day one of the the Twenty fifth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid, Spain.
It was here that Cook Islands Prime Minister, Hon Henry Puna, called upon the world to tackle climate change together.
“Our nations have taken bold actions, but we did not come here today to celebrate progress. We came because there is so much more progress to be made,” presented Prime Minister Puna to his global peers at the High Level Roundtable at the UNFCCC COP25.
“We have to be tireless in the common effort to achieve our common purpose: a world that is better than the one we found and a future that is worthy of our children.”
The Cook Islands has demonstrated ambitious targets, taking strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even though it is part of a region that collectively, emits less than 0.03% of the World’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Electricity on all but two of the 15 inhabited islands of the Cook Islands is now completely provided by solar energy with work to expand this to the remaining two islands, and through increasing use of electric vehicles.
In 2020 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is graduating the Cook Islands from a developing country to developed country status. The Cook Islands has a private sector led economy with one of the highest GDP’s per capita in the Pacific. The island nation has also achieved all its Millennium Development Goals.
“Yet no matter, these achievements, we cannot escape our vulnerability to climate change. A single event will cancel out all our development gains in one go,” outlined Prime Minister Puna, the 8th year in a row that he has brought the pleas of Cook Islanders for urgent action on climate change to the international community.
“At this 25th COP, I can’t help but wonder how our generation’s response to the greatest threat of our time, climate change, will be judged by history. For if we fail to meet it – boldly, swiftly and together – we have mortgaged our future. “
The Cook Islands will continue to increase its ambitions, as well as build resilience through taking action on climate proofing infrastructure, improving water security and building disaster preparedness.
In 2020 the Cook Islands is hosting the fourth Climate Action Pacific partnership Meeting, a coalition of Pacific stakeholders that is seeking to mobilise collective climate change action from 2020 and beyond. It will provide a platform for dialogue and genuine partnerships under the theme – ‘Climate drawdown: Banking on viable Pacific futures’.
“In Paris after 21 years, the world agreed that climate change is the biggest threat that we face. If we don’t tackle it, the consequences are grim,” said Prime Minister Puna as he called for global unity.
“We can tackle it together, if we stop the activities that cause it, enhance our resilience to its effect, talk about and give those most vulnerable a ‘hand up’. “
The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands participated in the High Level Roundtable discussions along with over 30 world leaders including the President of Cosa Rica, Nauru and the Prime Ministers of Portugal and Uganda.
The High level was held on 2 December, 2019. The UNFCCC COP25 is hosted in Madrid, Spain from 2 to 13 December, 2019.