COP26 president highlights urgency of climate action in the Pacific


By Sanjeshni Kumar

The rest of the world is now waking up to what the Pacific has been warning about for decades.

This statement was made by COP26 president Alok Sharma at Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji Islands while calling on world leaders to recognise the urgency of climate action.

He said Pacific is forced to deal with the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions generated largely by the biggest emitting countries.

“This is not a crisis of your making,” Sharma said.

He reiterated Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama’s COP23 comment “We have not caused this crisis, your nations have. We have trodden lightly on the earth whereas you have trodden heavily.”

Sharma said this comment weighs very heavily on all world leaders, who came to COP26 in Glasgow and made impassioned statements about tackling climate change.

“The leaders of many of the biggest emitting countries, of course, they talk the right talk. But they haven’t yet walked the walk on the level of climate action required.”

Pacific has spent years trying to educate the world on the dangerous predicament faced by the smallest, low-lying island states due to a changing climate.

This is now understood by some as the United Kingdom is waking up to the long-term dangers of global warming.

Recently, UK was hit with wildfires as the mercury in the thermostats topped forty degrees centigrade destroying property, torching grassland and damaging train tracks.

“We are starting to experience, more acutely, the consequences of rising temperatures that you have here in Fiji, and indeed other Pacific Islands, were forced to start adapting to a long time ago,” COP26 president said.

He said the recent Climate Emergency declaration reflects the threat to livelihoods, security and wellbeing of Pacific Islanders and ecosystems.

“You face this lived reality literally every day.”

Sharma said let’s continue to work together to cajole countries around the world, and particularly the major emitters, to honour the promises they made in Glasgow, and to turn commitments into action.

Meanwhile, Fijian Attorney-General and Minister responsible for Climate Change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum met with the COP26 President, Alok Sharma at the Parliament Chambers Wednesday.

During their meeting, the two discussed how the outgoing Presidency could help Pacific Island Countries meet their climate ambitions and how they could build on the outcomes of the Glasgow Pact from COP26.

The A-G highlighted the need to address challenges, particularly in the areas of adaptation, loss and damage financing, oceans, and climate finance moving into COP27 in Egypt.

The A-G emphasised the need for support from bilateral partners, to assist Fiji in delivering its climate change commitments including synergies needed from the incoming Presidency for climate ambition and tracking the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Fiji is the first and only visit of Alok Sharma to the Pacific since UK’s COP 26 Presidency.