Nov 23, 2017 Last Updated 9:11 AM, Nov 15, 2017

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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WHILE the twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP23) may be over, it was straight from one monumental environment event to another with the start of the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) that followed in Cancun, as well as the eighth Green Climate Fund Board Meeting hosted by Samoa.

Finding a moment of calm in this hectic international schedule, there is always a good time to reflect on the outcomes of the UNFCCC COP23 hosted in Marrakech from 7– 8 November, and to understand how some of these outcomes may impact From Paris, to Marrakech to the Pacific us here in the Pacific region.

We won’t paint a story of how climate change is impacting us in the Pacific islands as this is a story that we all know so well. We will, however have a look at what 190+ country parties have agreed to at the international level, which will eventually affect us all in our homes at the national and community level.

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