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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Climate Talks End with Hard Fought Agreement

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11th December 2011, Durban, South Africa: The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol that has been meeting in Durban, South Africa from 28th November to 9th December 2011 finally ended more than 36 hours after the scheduled closure on Sunday early morning. The world agreed to a new global climate change regime that will come in to force starting 2020.

In the early hours of this morning during the negotiations the Head of the Fiji Delegation and Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua issued the following remarks to the COP meeting:

“Madam President, Thank you for the leadership and the direction provided in the deliberations on issues which are not considered easy. I also wish to extend my appreciation to the Chairs of the Working Group. Madam President, on Kyoto Protocol, I re-echo the statement made by my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada on behalf of AOSIS member states, that whilst there are concerns on the decision text of the Kyoto Protocol, it is a joint effort or a compromise solution by parties to allow us to move forward. In this regard, I wish to convey my special appreciation to the European Union for taking the leadership role in climate change negotiation which is glaringly absent from the rest of the developed world. The action by EU has now become a beacon of hope at a time of global despair. Madam President I note the outcome of the AWG-LCA which unfortunately has not addressed the critical issue my country and other AOSIS Countries faced. It is one of our many disappointments. Another one of our disappointment is the lack of clarity and funding. Madam President I plead for trust and goodwill by all parties in future negotiations. Thank You.”

Speaking after the hard-fought agreement was struck, Minister Saumatua thanked South Africa and South African Foreign Affairs Minister and President of COP17 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for a successful meeting. He also thanked all the participants who have worked hard to reach the agreement:

“Whilst the agreement fails to address the most urgent issue, to move faster and deeper in cutting carbon emissions - waiting until 2020 to enforce the deal will not be enough to save small island states from sea level rise or stop droughts and floods, carbon emissions will have to peak by 2020 and start to come down for the world to limit temperature rise to 2C, the legal language needs to be a lot stronger to force countries to act  – nevertheless it provides a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major emitters of greenhouse gases under a single legal roof. We have entered a new phase in the international fight against climate change and it clearly points to action.The thorny issues to be addressed include determining the agreement's exact legal status and apportioning carbon constraints among rich and poor countries. All these will require political will and sincerity in the international community."

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At the end of the grueling talks the President of COP17 urged delegates to approve four packages, which have legal force, the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action". "We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come," South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said."We have made history," she said, bringing the hammer down on more than two weeks of sometimes fractious talks, the longest in two decades of U.N. climate talks.

The two-page document commits all countries to cutting carbon for the first time. A "road map" will guide countries towards a legal deal to cut carbon in 2015, but it will only come into effect after 2020.The deal also launched a "Green Climate Fund" to help channel up to 100 billion dollars a year in aid to poor, vulnerable countries by 2020, an initiative born under the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.Other documents in the package lay out rules for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, protecting forests, transferring clean technologies to developing countries and scores of technical issues.Currently, only industrial countries have legally binding emissions targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Those commitments expire next year, but they will be extended for another five years under the accord adopted Sunday — a key demand by developing countries like Fiji seeking to preserve the only existing treaty regulating carbon emissions.

The breakthrough capped 13 days of hectic negotiations that ran a day and a half over schedule, including two round-the-clock days that left negotiators bleary-eyed and stumbling with words. Fiji’s Delegations were organized so they could cover the late night and early morning sessions whilst others rested.

The Fiji Delegation to COP17 is led by Minister Saumatua and includes Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Mrs. Taina Tagicakibau and includes Ambassador Peceli Vocea Fiji’s Ambassador to the EU, Fiji’s High Commissioner to South Africa Mr. Ben Salacakau, the Acting Deputy Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Mr. Penijamini Lomaloma, Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Director Environment Mr. Jope Davetanivalu, Director Meteorology Mr. Alipate Waqaicelua, Deputy Conservator of Forests Mr. Samuela Lagataki, Dr Helena des Combes of USP, Lami Town Council CEO Ms. Preeya Ieli, Ms. Alisi Pulini Climate Change Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Mr. Peter Emberson of the Pacific Council of Church’s.

(Photo caption1;Front row: Ms Tagicakibau, Minister Saumatua; Back row: High Commissioner Salacakau and Ambassador Vocea;caption 2:COP17 President receiving standing ovation at end of meeting)