Bula Vinaka and good afternoon.
Some of you may remember from COP23 in Bonn, the Fijian double-hulled sailing canoe –– known as the Drua –– that symbolised our message of solidarity: that we are all in the same canoe when it comes to climate change.
As I speak, our global canoe is headed for storms that will sink us while seawater pours aboard through massive gaps; gaps in ambition, gaps in climate finance, and gaps in emissions reduction commitments. It brings to mind an ancient adage –– one I’ve since added to Fiji’s call to action: “Tu Na Inima Luvu Na Waqa”, which means, quite literally, “the boat sinks despite the presence of the bailers”.
Island nations, like Fiji, have teaspoons with which to bail water. The G20 nations have buckets. Yet too many are wilfully ignoring the storms on the horizon and the holes in our canoe. They must cut emissions –– now –– to set our canoe towards the calm of carbon-neutral seas and they need to start bailing –– now –– by meeting their climate finance pledges before our canoe sinks to the seabed.
While we welcome the new Climate Finance Delivery Plan on Meeting the US 100-billion-dollar goal by 2023, we do so knowing that nations have fallen billions short of previous pledges. And despite being the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world, SIDS have accessed a mere two percent of the available finance, which has mostly been through loans –– forcing us to pay high interest rates to address climate-driven impacts we did not cause. Wealthy nations must do more than pledge finance, they must make it affordable and accessible, and they must actually ensure that it reaches the communities it’s meant to aid –– for mitigation, but mainly for adaptation purposes.
And by 2025, much higher levels of commitment will be required –– 750 billion dollars annually in climate finance, ten percent of which is dedicated to SIDS, as well as a dedicated mechanism for the losses and damages we have already sustained. Wealthy nations spend trillions on defence partnerships and on weapons that can level entire communities, surely we can spend billions to adapt them.
How do we ensure that this is not yet another empty ask? We can start by meeting the 2023 commitment. Another way would be to finalise Article 6, price carbon, and ensure emitters pay to adapt the communities they are devastating.
This COP is where we will choose to stay with 1.5 or lose it forever and it is where we decide whether we are with the young and future children of the world or we are against them. To all leaders here; the message of the Pacific is simple: Our canoe is sinking. Pick up your buckets and start bailing, now, before it’s too late.