The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) closed on Saturday, July 16, 2022, with a declaration of a climate emergency and calls for rapid and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming. The declaration is significant in that it is endorsed by all Pacific leaders, including the new Australian government, and sets expectations for ambitious regional priorities in the lead up to COP.
The final communique is however said to fail to mention fossil fuels, which is responsible for 86% of CO2 emissions in the past decade alone. Pacific leaders have consistently pushed for ambitious language in outcome texts for many years yet continue to face stiff opposition to any explicit mention of coal, oil and gas from their Australian counterparts.
This is in spite of plans from Australia and other major emitters to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels consistent with a 1.5-degree trajectory by 2030, and 10% more than their own climate pledges. Fijian Prime Minister, Vorege Bainimarama, welcomed Australia’s new climate pledge but urged Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to go further, admonishing the new Australian Government to align their commitment to the 1.5-degree target.
Pacific governments and civil society organisations have been in lock-step for many years, declaring that climate change represents an existential threat to their island homes and that targeting fossil fuels head on will be essential to averting the worst of the climate crisis. The small island states of the Pacific are only responsible for 0.03% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but they are disproportionately facing many of the threats of climate change today.
As Pacific leaders call for rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, other world leaders are supporting new coal, oil and gas projects that would take us far off a 1.5-degree trajectory by 2030. An international mechanism like the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would help in tackling the biggest contributor to climate change – fossil fuels – at the source, it was gathered.
Tuvalu’s Minister of Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs Hon. Simon Kofe and Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Pacific Treaty Champion said: “As a Tuvaluan, as a young person and as a politician, I certainly put my support behind the Treaty. I think it’s important that we champion this Treaty because it is consistent with the Pacific’s efforts to combat Climate Change.”