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Pacific leaders fear climate change campaign will ‘lose momentum’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

Pacific leaders fear climate change campaign will ‘lose momentum’ amid COVID-19 pandemic, ABC, By foreign affairs reporter Melissa Clarke   19 June 20

Pacific leaders have said action on climate change “cannot and should not” take a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic and have appealed for Australia to help rally global support for more emissions cuts.

Key points:

  • Pacific leaders do not want the coronavirus pandemic to distract from work on climate change
  • Nations in the Pacific are concerned environmental impacts of climate change will ruin their tourism industry
  • Leaders are calling on Australia to not forget about emissions reduction commitments

Senior political leaders from both the Fijian and Samoan governments have raised concerns that climate change is being overlooked while global leaders and the media focus on the coronavirus.

The Fijian Government, which has been a strong critic of Australia for not doing more to reduce carbon emissions, has said the urgency for addressing climate change has not abated.

“It may appear that climate change has taken a back seat, but it cannot and should not,” Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap.Taking part in an online forum hosted by the Australian National University (ANU) on Thursday, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the impacts of climate change were being felt every day by Fijians.

“Climate change is a reality and we cannot lift our foot off the pedal,” he said.

Pacific nations regard climate change as an existential threat, with changing weather systems affecting sea levels, fish stocks, water quality and the frequency of severe weather events.

Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, speaking on the same forum, said it is important attention isn’t diverted from climate change.

“We’re talking about a pandemic, but… climate change impacts us in all aspects of our lives, including health as well.”……..

Pacific Island nations have been trying to get all countries to agree to register more ambitious emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Ms Mata’afa is concerned their campaign could “lose momentum” during the pandemic and appealed for Australia’s help.

“I think it is very important for Australia, as a member of the Pacific [Islands] Forum, that it comes in strongly as one of our larger members, with the Pacific and the message: to ensure that the 1.5 [degree] objective that we’ve been advocating for and that we raise the global ambition in regards to [cutting] emissions.”

Pacific nations have previously expressed their disappointment that Australia has not fully embraced their calls for more global action……… https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-18/pacific-leaders-fear-coronavirus-distraction-climate-change/12371182

June 20, 2020 - Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA

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