We Cannot Save the World from Climate Catastrophe if Largest Emitters of CO2 Don’t Step up Now

Frank Bainimarama is Prime Minister of Fiji

By Frank Bainimarama
SUVA, Fiji, Jun 27 2019 (IPS)

SUVA, Fiji, 27 June 2019 (IPS) — Are the most
climate-vulnerable nations of the world right to demand that
developed and major economies commit to carbon neutrality by
2050?

Should the poorest nations of the world insist that the
“haves” put their significant economic and political resources
behind aggressive efforts to combat climate change?

Frank Bainimarama

Do we have the right to expect political leaders to show the
courage, vision and will to lead their citizens to responsible
action to stem the growth of global warming?

The answer is yes, of course, and the reason is simple: We
cannot save the world from climate catastrophe if the largest
emitters of CO2 don’t step up now.

And the most vulnerable countries of the world cannot adequately
reduce our emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change
without economic support from the developed world that is flexible
and accessible. Governments, private financial institutions,
international financial institutions and foundations must be a part
of the solution.

Last week, European Union leaders missed a critical opportunity
to develop a more aggressive collective mitigation target by 2020
and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Perhaps more importantly,
they had a chance to lead the world to carbon neutrality, but they
failed to step up at the critical moment.

Their failure was a bitter disappointment to countries, like
Fiji, that are doing everything within our means to achieve those
same results. Island nations are determined to lead by example.

We have laid the ground work, but unfortunately, our efforts,
strenuous though they may be, will not be enough alone. We need
developed economies—and advanced developing economies—to make
the same strenuous effort.

We are at a critical juncture in this fight, at a point where we
know we can still act globally to change the course of human-made
climate change or fail to act and face the reverberations of
climate, environmental and biodiversity crises for generations to
come.

The political and scientific ground has shifted under our feet
since we signed the Paris Agreement in 2015. Governments have
changed, and populists and climate sceptics have gained ascendancy
in some countries.

Then, last October, the IPCC released its Special Report on 1.5
Degrees, which made it clear that time is closing in on us; we
simply don’t have the time to turn the tide that we thought we
had in Paris.

It was a struggle then for small island states and members of
the High Ambition Coalition to win the inclusion in the Paris
Agreement of an aspiration to limit global warming to of 1.5
degrees, when the official goal of the agreement was 2 degrees.

Now we find that we are less than 12 years away from dramatic,
far-reaching, and possibly irreversible consequences of surpassing
1.5 degrees of warming if we keep going the way we’re going. We
simply cannot miss opportunities like the one the EU missed last
week, and we must embrace all possible solutions.

There are three things we need to focus on now. First, we need
to reduce the amount of carbon we are releasing into the
atmosphere. This means that countries need to set much more
ambitious targets in their national climate commitments under the
Paris Agreement that lead to rapid decarbonisation of high-emitting
industries and sectors.

I am encouraged to see that the number of countries that are
stepping up to the 2020 deadline is growing, but I’m both proud
and concerned that most of these are from the developing world. The
names of many developed and major economies are still notably
absent from this list.

Second, we need to remove more of the carbon that has already
been emitted into the atmosphere and this means massively
increasing our investment in nature — developing and implementing
natural climate solutions that can be implemented worldwide.

Nature has the incredible power to remove carbon dioxide from
the earth’s atmosphere, but we are currently failing to protect
this vital resource. We will not be able to achieve 1.5 degrees
without dramatically recalibrating how we look after and restore
our natural landscapes. Under the leadership of China and New
Zealand, we are expecting a big step forward on this front at the
upcoming UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit (in New York on
September 23 this year).

And, third, developed and major economies should increase the
amount — and rapidly deploy — climate finance for developing
countries to allow us to achieve and increase our mitigation
targets, as well as urgently build our resilience to the impacts of
climate change. This means at least $100 billion a year by
2020.

The irony of the EU’s failure of will is that so many European
leaders understand fully what is at stake, and many individual
European countries—and non-European countries—are beginning to
take responsible action.

Still, it is a sad fact that the Marshall Islands and Fiji—two
of the most marginal carbon emitters in the world—are the only
two countries to have officially submitted long-term plans to the
UN for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Paris Agreement committed
signatories to achieving net carbon neutrality by the second half
of the 21st century, but it was unclear what was intended by the
term “second half.”

We know now that the deadline must be the beginning of the
second half, not the end. Fifty years of ambiguous wiggle room, 50
years of hesitancy, and 50 years of procrastination will lead us to
the catastrophe we fear.

Setting a date for achieving net-zero, matched with boosting
short-term action, is critical and that’s where national
leadership comes in. It gives all the relevant stakeholders,
government departments, businesses and citizens the signal they
need to start making concerted changes.

If developing countries can develop robust emissions-reduction
targets that truly drive us toward the goals we agreed to in Paris,
then other nations can, too.

The EU, and the rest of the developed world, can still change
course. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September
will provide a forum for every country to lay out their climate
ambitions before the world and be judged.

I urge developed countries to come to New York with the most
aggressive and most ambitious plans they can devise. In Paris, the
small island states used our moral weight to push the world to
accept the aspiration of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. In
New York, vulnerable developing countries must do the same.

We cannot accept that countries with the means to do more will
sit on the sidelines and do less.

The post
We Cannot Save the World from Climate Catastrophe if Largest
Emitters of CO2 Don’t Step up Now
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Frank Bainimarama is Prime Minister of Fiji

The post
We Cannot Save the World from Climate Catastrophe if Largest
Emitters of CO2 Don’t Step up Now
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
We Cannot Save the World from Climate Catastrophe if Largest Emitters of CO2 Don’t Step up Now