Pacific Ministers urged to set global example and declare the Pacific free of fossil fuel exploration and extraction


By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port Vila

Civil society organisations in Vanuatu and the Pacific are calling on governments to set global example and declare the Pacific region free of fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

The intervention from civil society echoes similar calls by a number of Pacific countries at the ministerial dialogue in Port Vila – for a fossil fuel free Pacific

“We need collective effort from governments, businesses, and individuals around the world and in the Pacific to move towards renewable energy, while supporting those who are most affected by the transition. This means ensuring that the costs and benefits of the transition are shared fairly, and that vulnerable communities are not left behind, said Flora Vano from ActionAid Vanuatu – and also representing the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN).

Delivering the collective civil society’s statement at the ministerial dialogue, Vano urged governments to force fossil fuel producing countries to immediately stop the expansion of fossil fuel production – ending all new oil, coal and gas projects.

“Their governments must end the harmful practice of subsidising the fossil fuels industries. Public and private sector financial institutions should divest away from fossil fuels industries. The transition to clean energy must be ambitious and transformative, and this requires systemic change across all sectors of the economy, including energy, transport, agriculture, and industry. We will support the leaders around this room in raising this issue in all relevant international for a, said Vano.

“We know that fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are the main contributor to greenhouse emissions and that the continued expansion of their production poses an existential threat to the Pacific region.

“The scientific evidence shows that existing fossil fuel reserves – those which private corporations and governments currently intend to extract and sell – would lead to a significant overshoot of 1.5 degrees, if consumed, said Vano.

Currently, the fossil fuel industry is earning billions in profit as Pacific Island nations suffer loss and damage from climate impacts.

She acknowledged the phase-out of fossil fuels is not only a challenge, but an opportunity to promote economic development and innovation in the Pacific region.

“By investing in renewable energy sources, Pacific Island nations can build resilient and sustainable economies that benefit both their people and the planet.

“Since the beginning of this dialogue, we all have heard of a number of initiatives that aims to accelerate pathways to global just transition, and secure the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. That is not only a goal. It is a lifeline for the Pacific.

“The initiative to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, a Pacific led global was initiated a by a group of young law students here in Vanuatu, amplified by the region’s civil society, and championed by the Government of Vanuatu. This is the kind if initiatives and leadership we would like to see more of.

“We call on our leaders and governments to support the initiatives like the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty; and the Clean Lighting Coalition Initiative.

“We must demonstrate to the world that despite the doom and gloom, that another world is possible, a fossil-fuel free world, that is just and sustainable.

The civil society intervention calls on leaders to include the voices of vulnerable communities in tackling climate crisis in the Pacific.

“Youth who form the majority of the Pacific region’s population are critical partners in building a just, sustainable, and resilient Blue Pacific continent. We call for ambition, for collaboration and for shared- leadership to finding pathways through the global transition away from fossil fuels; pathways defined by and for Pacific communities, said Vano.