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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

Fiji Joins in Efforts to Salvage UN Climate Talks

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10th December 2011, Durban, South Africa: As the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17)1  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 faced the scythe of Father Time as environment ministers haggled over proposals for a new pact to roll back the threat from greenhouse gases Fiji together with 194-nations parley into an unscheduled 13th day after desperate all-night wrangling over text.

Bleary-eyed delegates including those from Fiji worked through Friday night and all day Saturday, trying to map out the pathway toward limiting global emissions of greenhouse gases for the rest of this decade, and then how to continue beyond 2020.

UN reports released in the last month show time is running out to restrict global warming to safe limits, generally accepted as within a 2°C rise in average global temperatures. A warming planet has already intensified droughts and floods, increased crop failures and sea levels could rise to levels that would submerge several small island nations.

Research presented at Durban said that voluntary carbon pledges under the so-called Copenhagen Accord are falling far short of the goal of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).In fact, the world is on track for 3.5 C (6.3 F), a likely recipe for droughts, floods, storms and rising sea levels that will threaten tens of millions, according to German data.

In his Address earlier in the week on Wednesday the Head of the Fiji Delegation and Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua told the meeting:

“The decisions we make at this session will decide our future. The physical existence of some of our island states is at stake. Time is definitely not on our side. The recent report released by the International Energy Agency reveals an alarming finding which says that we are at the edge of no return for staying under 2 degrees temperature rise. For small island states, like Fiji this is unacceptable. Our situation is dire. We should not allow it to worsen. We know the problems. In Fiji, as in other small island states, we are facing them every day. We all know the solutions, yet they are not entirely in our hands.  To ensure our survival, we need to work together within our respective capacities and arrive at a decision before we depart from Durban. We therefore call on all Parties to take responsibility for their actions. We must demonstrate political courage to deliver on the solutions.”

The outcomes which Fiji is seeking from the Talks as explained by Minister Saumatua are as follows:

“First, on the long-term global goal, we need to be absolutely clear that the review of the long-term global goal should not affect mitigation ambition levels.”

“Secondly, on the Kyoto Protocol, Fiji needs certainty that there will be a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This has to be accompanied by enhanced rules to strengthen environmental integrity. This course is crucial to save our planet. We cannot afford to have a gap in the rules regime that governs our efforts to address climate change.”

“Thirdly, it is imperative that we finalise a mandate for a legally binding instrument that complements the legally binding nature of the Kyoto Protocol.”

“On the Cancun instruments, we call for the urgent and sustainable capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund. We must adopt the report of the Transitional Committee and its governing instrument so that it is operational by 2012. We must work together to identify and mobilise long-term sources of climate finance to complement what is already available via fast track finance. Moreover, we need to have in place a mechanism to address loss and damage caused to vulnerable countries as a result of the adverse impacts of climate change.”

“Finally, on REDD Plus, we need to move swiftly to implement what had been agreed up to Cancun. We therefore call for the establishment of a market-based mechanism as soon as possible.”

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 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 caption: Front row: Ms Tagicakibau, Minister Saumatua; Backrow: High Commissioner Salacakau and Ambassador Vocea)


1The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was set up to stop global temperatures rising above dangerous levels as a result of manmade emissions. Each year the Conference of the Parties (COP) meet to discuss progress. This is COP 17. The ultimate aim is to stop temperatures rising more than 2C by cutting greenhouse gases by 50 per cent by 2050.