‘Lock Arms and Go Forward’ to Address Climate Together, Bainimarama Urges in UN Speech
In his address this week to the United Nations General Assembly, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, chair of the UN climate conference coming up in Bonn in November, expressed his solidarity with Caribbean hurricane victims and stressed the urgency of climate action around the world.
Climate Home has published the speech in full…and it’s essential reading.
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“The appalling suffering in the Caribbean and the U.S. reminds us all that there is no time to waste,” Bainimarama declared. “For the Fijian people, climate change is real. It affects our lives altogether. Whether it is the whole villages we are moving out of the way of the rising seas; the loss of our ancestral burial grounds; the salinity affecting our crops; or the constant threat of destruction to homes and infrastructure of the kind we experienced last year.”
With three neighbouring countries at risk due to sea level rise, “Fiji has offered to give refuge to the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu in a worse case in which their homes sink beneath the waves altogether.”
With COP 23 due to convene in just seven weeks, “there is no escaping the fact that climate change is as great a threat to global security as any source of conflict,” he said. “Millions of people are already on the move because of drought and the changes to agriculture threatening their food security. Throughout history, we know that human beings will fight over access to water. And unless we tackle the underlying causes of climate change, we already know that some places will become unlivable and others will disappear altogether.”
Noting that Fiji lost 44 people and a third of its GDP when Cyclone Winston hit last year, Bainimarama said global warming “changes our very understanding of what our national interests are. It challenges us to understand that the only way for every nation to put itself first is to lock arms with all other nations and go forward together. Anything else is self-destructive—for the world and for each nation.”
While some countries might seek to protect national industries or near-term economic objectives, “there is no choice to be made between prosperity and a healthy climate,” he stressed. “We need to learn from each other and to use the world’s considerable resources to do the most good for the most people.”