[links in on-line article]
14 Pacific Island Nations Negotiate World's First Climate Treaty to
Ban Fossil Fuels
July 14, 2016
As coastal erosion and sea level rise eats away the Solomon Islands due
to climate change, the Pacific island nations are considering the
world's first international treaty that would ban or phase out fossil
fuels and set goals for renewables.
The "Pacific Climate Treaty" is currently under consideration after the
fourth annual Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) held in the
Solomon Islands this week.
During the two-day summit, 14 presidents, prime ministers and
ambassadors from the island countries and territories discussed
solutions to the Pacific's development challenges.
“[Leaders] seemed convinced that this is an avenue where the Pacific
could again show or build on the moral and political leadership that
they've shown earlier in their efforts to tackle climate change,"
Mahendra Kumar, climate change advisor to PIDF, told the Guardian.
The treaty is being utilized as a way to implement the aspirational 1.5
degrees Celsius target set by the Paris COP21 climate talks in the
Pacific region, according to the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network
(PICAN), a coalition of NGOs that wrote the treaty.
The proposed treaty will be studied and a report will be presented at
the 2017 summit.
"Expressing positive reviews to our proposal, the Leaders agreed to
'note the content of the draft Pacific Climate Treaty and approve that
further consultations be undertaken, with a report back at the 5th PIDF
Leaders Summit next year' for possible adoption," PICAN wrote on its
Facebook page. "This is a major accomplishment for our PICAN team
working in partnership with our Government Leaders to lead the
sustainable development agenda of the region."
Kumar said the treaty could be ratified in 2018.
The PIDF was created in 2013 by Fiji. This year's summit excluded
Australia and New Zealand, which were part of earlier talks. At last
year's talks, Australia and New Zealand were criticized by their smaller
and developing island neighbors for having less ambitious climate change
targets and for not doing more to combat climate change.
Many low-lying nations are under threat as oceans continue to rise.
Scientists predict that Kiribati—a remote Island Republic in the Central
Pacific—could be lost to rising sea levels in the next 50 years.
Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, said last
year that "anything over two degrees ... [and] we go under water."
The Philippines is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather, with the
nation suffering violent storms like Typhoon Haiyan. Tropical storms
have struck the nation more often and more severely, scientists believe,
because of climate change. The Global Climate Risk Index 2015 listed the
Philippines as the number one most affected country by climate change,
using 2013's data.
“Pacific island leaders are among the most proactive in the world on
global warming because their countries are bearing the brunt of climate
changes ... Their willingness to consider a Pacific climate treaty shows
much-needed leadership on the world's most pressing environmental
challenge," Joeteshna Gurdayal Zenos, acting head of Pacfic Net, which
is Greenpeace Australia Pacific's climate justice project, told the
PICAN said in a report presenting the Pacific Climate Treaty that the
potential treaty parties "already possess the political courage and
commitment needed to adopt a flagship legal instrument that is
sufficiently ambitious to prevent catastrophic changes in the global
“Such a treaty, when implemented in collaboration with PIDF and civil
society, would send a powerful signal to markets, governments and civil
society around the world that the end of fossil fuels is near, with
Pacific Islanders acting not as victims of climate change but as agents
of change," it said. “As there is currently no treaty that bans or
phases out fossil fuels, the Treaty would set a pioneering example to
the rest of the world."
The treaty includes sections on climate-related migration and
adaptation. It would also set up a fund to compensate for communities
that have suffered from climate change.
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