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Push for more climate action, less words

The United Nations (UN) is seeking to ensure that the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal is reached within the next eight years, the timeline many nations have committed to.

For Pacific nations, there have been too many words said but very little action taken, and there is widespread support for the UN move.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe has been known not to hold anything back when it comes to climate and issues affecting the environment. He has suggested that the focus on only limiting fossil fuel emissions – not production – has allowed countries and firms to claim climate leadership while also supporting new coal, oil and gas projects.

He said in the past decade, according to the IPCC 86 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions have been caused by oil, gas and coal, yet despite this, governments were planning to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels consistent with a 1.5-degree trajectory by 2030.

He has called for a complete phasing out of fossil fuel production, which without he believes the 1.5 degree target will never be achieved.

The President of the UN General Assembly Abdullah Shahid has convened a ‘Moment for Nature’ debate on Tuesday to examine the interconnected environmental threats hampering efforts to achieve sustainable development.

This was done to assess recent decisions on the global environment agenda and to present solutions to common bottlenecks, such as the gaps between commitments and actions, as well as the need for wider mobilisation.

Pacific leaders discussing climate change. Picture – Fijian Government

“We know that we have backed ourselves into a corner with our recklessness. We know that this will only get worse, and quickly, as we continue to delay the actions that are needed,” said Mr Shahid.

Despite the immense challenges facing the world, he was adamant that humanity can effect change, as witnessed by the development of technologies that were once inconceivable.

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“I remember a time when the power of renewable energies was viewed as far too weak and expensive to make a difference,” he said.

“Today, fleets of vehicles and countless homes run on renewables. Entire cities and countries aspire to be run on renewable energies. The possibilities are endless.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the meeting, where participants reviewed information from major UN conferences issues such as climate, desertification and biodiversity; the state of the oceans, and sustainable transportation, food systems, and energy.

President for the UN General Assembly Abdullah Shahid. The UN is seeking to ensure that the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal is reached within the next eight years, the timeline many nations have committed to. Picture – UN

It comes as countries are facing what he called a “triple crisis” of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“Our ways of life – based on producing, consuming, discarding and polluting – have brought us to this dire state of affairs,” the UN chief said in video message.

“But, since human activities are at the root of this planetary emergency, that means we also hold the key to the solutions. Now is the time to transform our relationship with nature and chart a new path.”

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, outlined areas where governments can take action, including transforming how we view and value nature.

“We must strengthen nature’s capacity to protect us from hazards and extreme events. This means accelerating implementation of national restoration policies, programmes and plans for marine and terrestrial ecosystems while creating new jobs, tackling poverty and improving sustainable development,” she said.

Countries also need to “close the biodiversity finance gap” by 2030, she added, which currently stands at some US$700 billion per year. This can be done through repurposing and re-directing the US$500 billion per year for “harmful subsidies” towards more biodiversity-positive activities.

This December, countries will gather in Montréal to conclude the Global Biodiversity Framework, a new set of goals for nature over the next decade.

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