CEO European Climate Foundation (ECF) Ms. Laurence Tubiana,
COP26 President Designate, Her Excellency, Minister Claire Perry,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bula Vinaka, and a very good evening to you all.
Thank you for having me, as Fiji joins the ranks of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition (CNC). Although Fiji is new to formally join onto the CNC, we’ve been early-movers on achieving net zero from the start.
We submitted our long-term low emissions development strategy to the UNFCCC at COP24 last year, becoming just the second island nation –and eleventh of any nation in the world – to do so.
But Fiji’s strategy stands out in a big way, as one of only a handful to include a political commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. That’s because Fijians understand that the science is clear: to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees, the world must cut emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. We know that, despite our own emissions being tiny, we must lead by example.
And for the international community to achieve net zero emissions, we must accept zero excuses.
Frankly, I’m tired of hearing major emitters excuse inaction in cutting their own emissions on the basis they are “just a fraction” of the world’s total.
The truth is, in a family of nearly 200 nations, collective efforts are key. We all must take responsibility for ourselves, and we all must play our part to achieve net zero. As I like to say, we’re all in the same canoe. But currently, that canoe is taking on water with nearly 200 holes –– and there are too few of us trying to patch them. As a retired seaman myself, I can tell you this: You can’t fix a leaky boat with Kyoto credits!
To do this, we know that global ambition needs to increase fivefold – five times more action than at present – if we are to have any hope of capping the global temperature at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above that of the pre-industrial age.
Our current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) will produce warming of at least 3 degrees by century’s end, which would be catastrophic. And those nations represented by the CNC know it best: We can always do better.
That’s why in Fiji, our long-term strategy involves an economy-wide assessment of emission sources to identify where we can make further cuts. And as I keep saying, if we can do it, so can every nation. All it requires is political will –– and I again appeal to every nation to rise to that challenge.
Our strategy is ambitious, inclusive and comprehensive, with a broad range of initiatives that promote sustainable growth and long-term de-carbonization of the Fijian economy. A major area of focus is the energy sector and achieving reductions in carbon emissions in land transport, maritime transport and domestic aviation, agriculture, forestry and other land use and waste.
My friends, let me leave you with one thought: making a commitment to achieve net-zero by 2050 is meaningless if it is not matched by short-term action. Without action today, such commitments are merely political greenwashing –– empty promises that will have little effect on our ability to deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Achieving net-zero won’t happen overnight, we need to immediately set ourselves on a new course and make steady and rapid progress each and every year over the next three decades. To do this, we need to come up with plans –– plans that are in line with the science –– and we need to immediately put those plans into action.
All countries should answer the invitation from the Paris Agreement to develop their long-term low-emissions development strategies by COP26 and make sure they are compatible with 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to step up and start treating climate change as the crisis it is. This means fundamental shifts in our economies in the coming decade that includes more support for natural climate solutions, ending the subsidies and use of fossil fuels, including coal, and achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century. Zero excuses.
Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.