Pacific countries face COVID-19 hurdles to get to COP 26 climate talks


Several Pacific Island countries have ruled out attending the COP 26 global climate change talks next month citing challenges around COVID-19 restrictions, quarantine and travel to the summit.

Both Kiribati and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) have announced they will be unable to attend the event in Glasgow.

Pacific Island nations have been a driving force behind global climate action, and are pushing for an agreement to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees.

Palau is one country that will send a delegation to the talks, but the country’s national climate change co-ordinator Xavier Matsutaro told Pacific Beat a lack of full Pacific representation will impact a united fight at COP 26.

“Each time you have less representatives that are there face to face, it’s one less resource you have in your toolbox to really try and push for the issues,” he said.

The ABC understands Australia has offered travel assistance to some Pacific countries.

For the countries that won’t be able to make the talks in person Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said in a statement she hopes virtual attendance might be possible.

The ABC is yet to confirm with organisers what alternatives have been arranged for countries who can’t send in person delegations.

But Solomon Islands political commentator Dr Transform Aqorau saId the Pacific cultural way means face to face talks are preferred.

“It’s a cultural thing as well being able to meet physically to sit around the table and talanoa is very important. Differences can be arrived at simply by having coffee or sharing a shell of kava,” he said.

Alongside Palau, the Solomon Islands will also send a delegation to Glasgow.

Palau’s Xavier Matsutaro said he will do everything to represent the concerns of the entire Pacific.

“We’ll be there for them to fight the good fight, and try to make sure that everybody’s represented within our region,” he said.