Feb 23, 2018 Last Updated 5:27 AM, Feb 19, 2018

Things fall apart

Tokelau calls for support

FOR close to 40 years the tiny island nation of Tokelau has been without a local meteorological service. That’s ever since New Zealand withdrew direct funding for the facility in the 1980s.

With the ever increasing threat of climate change, this remote state has made an urgent plea for donor support in order to strengthen its meteorological and climate related services. In an interview with Islands Business during the Second Pacific Ministerial meeting on Meteorology (PMMM-2), Minister for Climate Change, Natural Resources, Economic Development and Environment, Kelihiano Kalolo, stressed the Tokelau’s need for assistance.

“We need funding because we don’t have the infrastructure, we would like to give the information to our people, and we would like to have the infrastructure for the dissemination of information,” he said.

“Tokelau in any other country is very small without capacity and resource and we would like people to help us and the pacific to work together, after all, climate change is affecting all of us.” Alluding to Tokelau’s lack of climate service, information and documentation, Tokelau’s Manager for the Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment, Loia Tausi, told the Pacific Meteorology Council (PMC) meeting had laid out specific needs of the Tokelau meteorology services, calling on donors present in the room for support.

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INTERVIEWED on Radio Australia last month, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific was spruiking her government’s contribution for the global climate negotiations to be hosted by Fiji next November in Bonn.

Announcing a $6million grant to the secretariat in Suva that will manage preparations for the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP23), Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said: “We are at the coal face here in the Pacific of dealing with issues consequent to climate events.”

It was an unfortunate choice of words. Many Pacific island leaders are hoping that Australia will step away from the coal face! Last month, Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel released a major report on energy security, affordability and emissions reductions. In response, some members of the Turnbull government, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have called for the construction of new coal-fired power stations, funded by government money.

The push to include fossil fuels in new clean energy funding mechanisms comes despite the call from Pacific neighbours for the urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions generated by coal and other fossil fuels

This push for coal plants is also played out on the international scene. According to a 2015 report from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia hopes to count funds for “clean coal” projects as part of its international climate funding obligation...

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Kiribati leads the way

IN what could best labelled as an out -of-the-box idea, Kiribati says it won’t sit around waiting for global funds but would instead use its own money to fund climate change adaptation works on the atoll nation. Island president Taneti Maamau unveiled his administration’s climate finance plans at a United Nations conference on disaster risk reduction in Mexico last month.

Key to the funding plan is sourcing concessionary bank loans with the island’s healthy trust funds to be put up as collateral. “Ideally, government will be looking at concessional debt financing with an interest rate of 1 per cent to 2 per cent which will be repaid when climate or adaptation financing are available.

We currently earn about 6 per cent return on our investment,” said President Maamau. “We are also looking at private financing for our adaptation and mitigation measures.

The Pacific Rising Initiative of the Coalition of Atoll Nations Against Climate Change (CANCC) is a public private partnership aimed at securing and mobilising private capital for climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

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CLIMATE change has become a global phenomenon impacting the whole world. There are cynics who say that there is no such thing as climate change believing that climate is just a natural procession of evolution, a natural procession of change.

There are those who believe that all of these natural catastrophes and disasters is God’s way of punishing humans for their immoral and depraved way of living and predict that the end of time is closing in on us. Then there are those who see the changes in weather patterns comparing the present with the past seeing phenomenal differences exacerbated by the constant barrage of natural disasters the world over.

More often than not these are people at the brunt of it all, experiencing these extreme weather changes. Some of these people are inhabitants of small islands states and right here in the Pacific quite a number of these islands have become quite vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is not unusual for elders to tell you that 10 years ago the coastline was ‘down there’ now it is ‘up here’ it has shifted.

And they point out that fishing, is just not how it used to be the. Nowadays they have to know where it will ‘catch’ or go farther out to sea get a decent catch. One of these small island states is Tuvalu, one of the smallest countries in the world with a population of a approximately 12,000 living on low lying coral atoll islands that are only around three meters above sea level. 

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TUVALU Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga has not rested. Barely settled at home after the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Morocco in November, Sopoaga plunged straight into laying the platform for his country’s inaugural Climate Resilience Week, while juggling an intense government budget debate in Tuvalu’s national parliament.

“There is no time to waste. This is all part of building protective measures long term. We cannot just sit around and wait for outside help and that is why we must keep the momentum going from Paris as well as Morocco,” says Sopoaga as he rounded up from yet another meeting, this time a strenuous week-long United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) regional meet in Suva in December.

Tuvalu is among those at the forefront of advocating for the inclusion of a legal mechanism to recognise the rights of persons displaced by climate change. “We are pushing for a Pacific Islands Insurance Facility for the region. There will be a specific formula which we are putting together as part of this based on things like the strength and damage of natural disasters and of course, easy access to those affected,” Sopoaga says. 

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