By Delly Waigeno – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has told the world climate summit in Paris that Pacific island countries are running out of time for world leaders to develop solutions to climate change.
Speaking at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, O’Neill said communities in the Pacific are seeing people displaced and dying because of climate change.
He said countries of the Pacific want to see a legally binding agreement that sets a temperature ceiling of below 1.5 degrees celsius.
France is host of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP21.
The conference is crucial because of the expected outcome. This anticipated outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, to keep global warming below 2°C.
Speaking as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, O’Neill said Pacific countries want to see countries agree to keep a temperature ceiling of below 1.5°C.
“The time for talk is passing the world by, we must act now to save lives and protect communities. We must set targets and plans for action to reduce emissions. It will not be good enough if countries walk away from Paris without a firm agreement being reached – particularly when we know that there is momentum and goodwill to reach that binding agreement. The countries of the Pacific Islands Forum are seeking a legally binding agreement – that sets a temperature ceiling of well below 1.5°C,” O’Neill said.
He said PNG is, sadly, the home to the world’s first climate refugees – where people of the Carteret Islands have been forced from their homes because of rising sea levels.
O’Neill told the gathering that Pacific island nations are facing extinction, even though like any other people in the world, these countries have a right to exist.
“In the Pacific, lives are being lost to extreme drought and frost, and the most devastating tropical storms in recorded history strike each year. This ongoing disaster must be stopped, and support be given to the victims of climate change so they can rebuild their lives. We, in this room, have the power to do so,” O’Neill said.
He announced that PNG has joined in the fight against global warming. He said PNG supports a Paris Agreement that anchors the REDD Plus Mechanism, describing it as one of the most cost effective mitigation options.
“Papua New Guinea is committing millions of hectares of our forest for the REDD Plus initiative – and taking part in the reforestation of hundreds of thousands of additional hectares. Papua New Guinea is one of the few countries in World that has legislative framework so we can combat the climate change challenge,” O’Neill said.
He reminded developed nations, of their moral obligation to act.