“World must act now to keep 1.5 degrees alive” says Forum SG


By Pita Ligaiula in Glasgow

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna says the world must act now to keep 1.5degrees alive”.

Speaking to PACNEWS in Glasgow, Puna said Forum Island Countries (FICs) are calling for more ambitious targets from major polluting nations to ensure that carbon emission cuts keep temperature rise at no more than 1.5 degrees.

“That is really the main core that we are coming to COP26 with that everybody needs to step up to the mark. We can’t afford to leave COP26 without a commitment. We need to stay within 1.5 degrees.

“For me that is really the overriding important core that we must come away from here onwards. Today everybody must agree to do whatever is required to stay within… and again science is telling us and its very disappointing that some of the developed countries are not taking this seriously

“I think because it affects their normal life, normal business and that really is a challenge but that’s what we come for COP26… an agreement that we must do what we need to do in order to stay within 1.5 degrees. We can’t afford to not to achieve that,” Puna told PACNEWS.

The former Cook Islands Prime Minister said the involvement of climate champions shows that the region is serious about dealing with the effects of climate change.

“Yes my first COP as Secretary General for the whole region and I’m pleased to be here with our leaders particularly with our climate champions… because I think that takes our advocacy to another level and I do hope that the countries that will be here and those who are not here will take this seriously for the sake of not just the Pacific, for the sake of mankind. We have to do what we must do here.

“This is something new that we are doing for the first time here. I think it’s an excellent idea to allow the world to realise that we in the Pacific are very serious about climate change to the point where we designating each of our leaders championing a particular cause in climate change. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that political climate champions will make a lot of difference,” SG Puna told PACNEWS.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said Sunday the world “must act now to keep 1.5 alive”.

“Six years ago, in Paris, we agreed our shared goals”

“COP26 is our last best hope to keep 1.5 in reach,” Sharma told delegates here in Glasgow.

“I believe we can move negotiations forward and launch a decade of ever increasing ambition and action but we need to hit the ground running.

“If we act now and we act together we can protect our precious promise and ensure where Paris promised, Glasgow delivers.”

Sharma said during the pandemic “climate change did not take time off”.

He told delegates a recent UN report which said the past five years had been the hottest on record since 1850 was a “wake up call for all of us and it made clear that the lights are flashing red on the climate’s ‘s dashboard.

“It told us that human activity was unequivocally the cause of global warming and the window to keep this warming limited to 1.5 was closing,” he said.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa told the opening session of COP26, the world stand at a pivotal point in history.

“Humanity faces several stark but clear choices.

“We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C— or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.

“We either choose to boost adaptation efforts to deal with current extreme weather disasters and build resilience to address future impacts — or we accept that more people will die, more families will suffer, and more economic harm will follow.

“We either choose to recognise that business as usual isn’t worth the devastating price we’re paying and make the necessary transition to a more sustainable future — or we accept that we’re investing in our own extinction.

“It is about much more than environment, it is about peace, stability and the institutions we have built to promote the wellbeing of all. It is for these reasons and more that we must make progress here in Glasgow.

“We have no choice but to make COP26 a success. For that, we need unity of purpose. We need to leave Glasgow with a balanced package of decisions that reflects the positions of all countries. With a willingness to compromise among the many perspectives we can arrive at workable, ambitious solutions that will help us keep the 1.5C goal within reach. We stand ready to work with all Parties and to leave no voice behind to reach this important goal,” Espinosa said.

PACNEWS coverage from Glasgow is possible with the assistance of the Pacific Islands Forum through the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC).