Fiji’s former Ambassador to the UN, Satyendra Prasad.

Opinion piece by former Fiji’s Ambassador to the UN, Satyendra Prasad at COP28 in Dubai

COP 28 has entered its crucial business end – where the World leaders must agree to the pathway forward. Pacific’s leaders cannot afford to be sidetracked by the many announcements and the festive nature of this COP.

None of the announcements such as operationalisation of Loss and Damage and new private sector financing facility put forward by hosts UAE will matter if 1.5 target is lost in Dubai. Right now that is where the world is at. The World stares point blank at losing the 1.5 target irrecoverably.

The Global Stocktake confirms that we are now on track to lose the 1.5 in near future with catastrophic long term consequences for the Blue Pacific.

1.5 is too dangerously close to being buried. And yet again the World expects its smallest states to make the sacrifices and the concessions!

What must happen?

The starting point is an agreement to phase out all fossil fuels in a just and equitable way but in a way that is consistent with securing the 1.5 trajectory – not by sacrificing it. That is the starting point and this is feasible.

Second is agreeing to triple the renewable energy capacity by 2030 – in 6 years. That is moving from a stroll on Dubai beach pace to a war footing. Nothing less will get us there.

Third is agreement to now place a price on carbon. This will provide the core finances needed to drive a just and equitable transition and bring scale and speed to climate finance investments.

Fourth is to adopt a war footing on reversing deforestation; ecosystem loss; biodiversity loss including across our ocean. Nature provides the most important tools that we have to fight climate change. We cannot continue on a path where we are all asked to fight climate change but by sacrificing the best weapons that we have – our forests; our ocean; our biodiversity.

Fifth that the outsized role of ocean be accepted as it gives us more than 30 percent of the GHG reduction capacity. Pacific’s leaders and UAE itself has asked for a new “blue deal” to be delivered at this COP. Such a deal should help countries to offer larger ocean spaces for protection and conservation and help to drive ocean based climate actions at the needed level of ambition.

Finally; the global system should stop asking its smallest and most vulnerable states to sacrifice more and more at each successive COP. Small states are the most severely impacted by climate change. Small island states are the most severely disadvantaged in their access to climate and development finance. These states are the most severely disadvantaged in their access to technology and private sector investments. If these don’t constitute unique and special circumstances then what does? Their unique and special circumstances must be recognised across an COP28 outcome document.

This is a business end Of COP. Leadership – not negotiation matters at this phase of COP. UAE has demonstrated great leadership to the world in building a powerful modern economy. It has developed enduring relationships with the Pacific Islands. UAE has benefited extraordinarily from climate change. It can broker concessions from the largest economies and from the fossil fuel industry in ways others simply cannot.

At this business end of COP -the time has come for its Presidency to demonstrate leadership; secure a historic outcome at COP28; restore hope to people everywhere and return the planet to a 1.5 Celsius pathway.