In a few hours, Pacific leaders will join world leaders in what is termed the defining political event for the climate in 2019 where UN secretary-general António Guterres hosts the Climate Action Summit in New York.  Aimed to ramp up global efforts to tackle the climate crisis, the high-level meeting at the UN headquarters is a critical moment because political leaders are expected to show their willingness to increase their climate plans and deepen the decarbonization of their economies.  

Already, meetings have begun in the margins of the Summit.  For instance, Pacific Islands leaders already met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 21 September 2019 where talks ranged from the blue Pacific to the issue to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents and to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means.  

The Pacific’s preparation as a region could be seen as occurring at two separate meetings, one being the third Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference (CAPP III) held in Fiji and the 50th Pacific Islands Forum held in Tuvalu in a span of three weeks.  At the CCAP, Fiji proposed an innovative financing instruments in blue bonds, while practitioners looked at including agriculture, forestry, and other land uses in nationally determined contributions (NDCS) in addition to green jobs, identifying instruments and strategies to support the enhancement and implementation of NDCs, showcasing opportunities and innovative approaches to access and mobilise climate financing and investments in the Pacific, advancing the Ocean Pathway and increasing recognition on the important role the ocean plays in accelerating climate action, determining appropriate mechanisms to address climate risks and loss and damage in the Pacific and the emerging issue of climate security, ensuring a strong Pacific presence at the event and developing a Pacific climate roadmap to 2020.  

At the forum leaders meeting, leaders raised the importance of regional security reflected in the Boe Declaration and recognized the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP) and its inclusive Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP) as an integrated approach to address climate change adaptation and disaster risk management. Leaders also noted that taking action to protect fisheries resources and to conserve and restore marine ecosystems and biodiversity while working to protect the ocean from harmful plastics through our Pacific Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter 2018-2025.  

Climate financing emanated from the two meetings as required substantial investment to support climate change and development initiatives in the region.  Leaders are aware of the urgency.  

With a decisive pledge on ‘A  Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win’, the Pacific expects strong and ambitious plans from large emitters. If anything, Hurrican Dorian and the images of smoke-shrouded Amazon has reminded the world of the importance of bridging the gap to the level of ambition needed to keep temperatures to 1.5C, one the Pacific knows is easier said than done.

There is hope yet. Perhaps there will be great plans to reduce emissions in the next decade and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 will be achievable.

Sep 22, 2019 By Ruci Botei