From Karen Thomas in Glasgow
Small and developing island states face “a causeway to catastrophe” if COP26 fails to deliver governments’ Paris Agreement pledges, Fiji’s prime minister told a side event for investors and innovators at COP26 yesterday.
Frank Bainimarama says Fiji and many other countries already struggle with climate impacts, including storms, heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas. He urged COP26 negotiators to rein in global emissions to within the 1.5˚C limit that scientists advocate.
Bainimarama's comments come as yesterday brought dire new forecasts for a global warming scenario that pushes well past the above limit.
Despite the last week’s pledges to cut carbon, parties’ near-term promises put the world on course to heat up by a 2.4˚C over pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century, Climate Action Tracker announced.
That puts the world on course for more extreme weather and higher sea levels – and developing island states such as Fiji are on the frontlines of coastal erosion, cyclones, heatwaves and floods.
Fiji hopes COP26 could agree a deal to limit global heating – but says there is no room now for leeway.
“If I lacked hope that this is possible, I wouldn’t have bothered coming to this summit,” Bainimarama told the Sustainable Innovation Forum.
“But do not mistake this moment for anything less than the defining moment of the decade. Tackling climate change also presents our single greatest opportunity for creating jobs and technical innovation.”
While waiting for the international community to hold up its end of the climate action bargain, Fiji has been hard at work putting in place a range of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
Fiji is seeking creative new ways to tap investment in nature-based solutions and to support its transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
It was the first country in the world to issue a green bond, in 2017 raising US$50 million to soften the impacts of climate change. In 2016, Fiji suffered storm damage equal to a third of its annual GDP when cyclone Winston hit the country.
Next year, the country will issue its first blue bond, to fund marine restoration, Bainimarama said. The money will fund conservation and coastal restoration. Fiji is also exploring new technologies to tap marine power.
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