Bula Vinaka and good afternoon.
At COP21 in Paris, “1.5” was a compromise that Fiji struck alongside all of the world’s most climate vulnerable nations. We knew then all the human tragedy that level of warming would mean. But it ensured, at the very least, that low-lying island nations and communities would survive.
Six years on, where has that goodwill gotten us? The world’s collective climate commitments will see us fly past 1.5 by the end of the decade. We are losing the race to net-zero to a coalition of carbon addicts who would rather fight for coal than for a future of good jobs and innovative industries created by climate ambition.
These leaders make pledges but won’t show us plans. They even seek to spin the science. But we cannot let them write out the urgency of accelerating action. Clean coal, responsible natural gas, and ethical oil are all figments of the selfish mind. No matter what they call them, carbon emissions are wrecking the climate. There’s nothing clean, natural or ethical about it.
Other leaders pursue a policy of appeasement. They sit idly by as their high-emitting counterparts destroy our children’s futures. The science is clear, ladies and gentlemen, no city, no community, and no ecosystem will be spared from the reckoning that lies beyond 1.5 degrees of warming, including our oceans, the lungs of the planet.
We have fallen so far off course that only bold and courageous action will suffice. 2060 is too late. Empty promises of mid-century ambition are not enough. All high-emitting countries must halve global emissions by 2030. The G20 nations who are prepared to make those commitments must demand the same from others. We have moral authority, you have a moral obligation. Together, our coalition of the willing can keep 1.5 alive, keep low-lying island nations above water, keep erratic and severe weather from devastating us all, and keep the trust between nations so that we can keep faith that our children and grandchildren will have a future. That includes making good on the promise of $100 billion in climate finance.
We Pacific nations have not travelled to the other end of the world to watch our future sacrificed at the altar of appeasement of the world’s worst emitters. The existence of our low-lying neighbours is not on the negotiating table. 1.5 is alive. It is possible. Humanity does not lack the resources, technology, projects, or innovative potential to achieve it. All that is missing is the courage to act –– the courage to choose our grandchildren’s future over shareholder greed and corporate carbon-driven interests. What more fitting place than the United Kingdom –– the birthplace of the industrial age –– to summon the will to secure the commitments that begin a cleaner, greener and bluer revolution.