Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Enele Sopoaga from Tuvalu: message to Australia at #COP25

Enele Sopoaga, diplomat and former Prime Minister of Tuvalu, interviewed on December 10, 2019 at COP25 in Madrid on climate change, Australia, Tuvalu and the Pacific.

Transcript: Interviewer: What role does climate change have in hampering the relationship between Australia and Pacific Island Nations:

Australia's relationship with Tuvalu and the Pacific is significant and that remains so. Of course the issue of climate change is an issue that needs proper elaboration and understanding between our two countries because it is now regarded and looked at as a sticky issue in our relationship. It doesn't mean we are lowering the importance of this relationship, and I appreciate the step up policy that Australia has put on the floor....

At the ANU in Canberra and also in Tuvalu where I hosted the leaders of the Pacific, including Prime Minister Morrison under the Leaders Forum, that we need to elaborate, understand better the implications of, and the commitments under the Step up policy. Climate Change is an issue that is now! Undeniably accepted by the world community as a threat and the Forum leaders of the Pacific have said it is the single most existential threat to the security and livelihood to the people of the Pacific. The communique came out of the Forum at Tuvalu, signed off by leaders including Morrison, refers to the importance and the dire situation facing small island nations in the Pacific and called for urgent actions to transition away from Fossil fuels, particularly coal.

And this is a message I want to say again: we need to understand and elaborate on that for concrete actions. Certainly coal suggests we need better support from the Australian delegation, especially those here on the floor, to look more at supporting the special reports of the IPCC. Science is already there. What is needed is the opinion of the public to give support to that science. There is no other process besides the climate change process to address these threats towards the livelihoods of people, not only in the Pacific, but the world over.

We must do our work here. Come out with concrete decisions here. Interviewer: Is that the main thing you would like to see Australia do as part of these negotiations, and its efforts to reduce its emissions at home? Absolutely, I think we need to concretely keep commitments from negotiators. Many of these Australian negotiators I know them. We have been working on the floor for many years, and I respect and admire their stamina, their contribution to this process. As I said earlier on, the Government in Canberra.

But we need to step up, to support more the science that has been put on the floor by IPCC, not one but more than one special reports. Particularly the report on 1.5 degrees and impacts on Tuvalu, and also on the oceans upon which we live in the Pacific. That is the key message that we need to do. Yes, of course people are talking about green, blue carbon. This has nothing to do with reduction in emissions. Global emissions to the atmosphere. It is like transferring your actions to be done by small island countries like Tuvalu. We get funding to plant mangroves perhaps, or vegetation along the beach, get washed come another westerly. But at home no reduction is happening. That is not real reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Interviewer: What have you seen in the last few years in terms of climate impacts you have already seeing in Tuvalu and also in other Pacific Island nations?

I think the empiracal evidence is there. We have seen it. Leaders of the Pacific came to Tuvalu, and they were totally taken, overwhelmed by the extreme vulnerability of the islands. You are on the middle of the island and you are looking at the lagoon to the left and to the right is the ocean side with waves crashing on top of the course. Prime Minister Morrison was there, he was my friend. We danced on the floor together. I think he totally appeciated it. I really appreciate that he takes home the message. We need to take this and communicate this better, to the community and people at the personal level. That is the basis upon which we need to work on. Concrete support to the government as well as positions of Australia, as well as other parties here at COP25.

All the best. My condolences to those affected by bushfire. I wish them a merry christmas and a happy new year.

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