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Europe heatwave helps understand Pacific plight

It was not until last week that Europeans and Brits realised the reality of climate change, according to the president of COP 26 Alok Sharma when addressing students, civil society organisations and environmental groups at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva on Wednesday.

Mr Sharma said only when the thermostat hit 40 degrees centigrade and wildfires spread through Britain and France, did people realise what the Pacific must be going through.

The COP 26, the United Nations Conference on Climate, was held in Glasgow last year and many promises were made by developed nations who were the largest emitters of Greenhouse gases but hardly any have lived up to the promise.

Pacific nations remain the smallest contributors to this and yet the effects in the region are existential making climate change the number one issue in the region.

This has seen more commitments from the Pacific big brothers toward climate change but time will tell if these commitments are genuine.

It was not until last week that Europeans and Brits realised the reality of climate change, according to the president of COP 26 Alok Sharma. Picture – PIF

Mr Sharma said the Pacific was dealing with an issue created by first world countries and rightly enough the Pacific has been wanting more action and less talk from these countries.

“So I can appreciate how challenging it must be for you who do that, to make the arduous journey to COP 26 in Glasgow and make those voices heard and adding to the voices calling for ambitious climate action,” he said.

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“I am delighted to be here with you and meet you in person to hear about your lived experiences and try and understand what is it like to inhabit an island like this which is at the frontline of climate change.

Participants getting a chance to question Mr Sharma. Picture – PIF

“You are forced to deal with the consequences of Greenhouse gas emissions generated by the largest emitting countries, a long way from here. And let us be frank, this is not a crisis of your own making.

“Many came to COP 26 and made impassioned statements about tackling climate change. The leaders of the biggest emitting countries of course they talk, but they have not yet walked the walk the level of climate action that is required.”

Mr Sharma said the Pacific nations had spent years trying to educate the world on the dangerous predicament faced by the lowest island nations due to the changing climate.

University of the South Pacific student Salote Nasalo pleaded with Mr Sharma about the future of the Pacific people. Picture – PIF

He said the climate finances that have been pledged for the $100 billion target are expected to be met in 2023 and they must deliver on this pledge and the commitment to double adaptation finance to $40 billion by 2025.

University of the South Pacific student Salote Nasalo pleaded with Mr Sharma about the future of the Pacific people.

Nasalo said around 800 communities in Fiji will have to relocate by 2050 because of sea level rising, and so far up to five of these communities have already been relocated.

“What will happen to the 795 communities that will need to relocate in less than 27 years?” she asked Mr Sharma.

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