International Pacific

Fiji says U.S. faces climate risks, urges Trump to ‘stay in canoe’

Image: FILE PHOTO: A Fijian family board their canoe as sunset lights up the sky behind an island’s mountain range in Suva May 1, 2004. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Fiji, due to lead global talks on climate change, said on Thursday that rising sea levels threaten New York and Miami and urged U.S. President Donald Trump to “stay in the canoe” alongside other nations in the fight against global warming.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said he hoped to form a “grand coalition” including governments, scientists and companies to protect a 2015 Paris Agreement for limiting greenhouse gas emissions despite Trump’s threats to pull out.

A melt of glaciers from Greenland to Antarctica is pouring ever more water into the oceans, which have already risen by about 20 cms (8 inches) in the past century.

“No one, no matter who they are or where they live, will ultimately escape the impact of climate change,” he told delegates at the end of two-week negotiations by senior officials in Bonn on a “rule book” for the Paris Agreement.

He said “cities in the developed world like Miami, New York, Venice or Rotterdam” were as vulnerable to rising seas as low-lying nations around the world, such as Fiji in the Pacific.

Trump has homes in both New York and Florida.

Fiji will preside at annual ministerial climate talks among almost 200 nations in November to promote the Paris Agreement, which seeks to move the world away from fossil fuel use this century.

The talks will be held in Bonn, rather than Fiji which lacks facilities for a conference of 20,000 people.

Fiji’s ambassador for climate change, Nazhat Shameem Khan, added to calls by nations including China and India as well as the European Union for Washington to remain in the Paris Agreement rather than pull out.

Trump has expressed doubts that climate change is man-made and made a campaign pledge to “cancel” the deal and instead promote the coal industry. He said he will decide after returning from a Group of Seven summit on May 26-27.

“We hope we will all stay, as we say in the Pacific, in the same canoe, going in the same direction and paddling at the same speed,” Khan told Reuters. “It would be the best possible solution if President Trump stays in the canoe.”

Fiji was considering encouraging coastal cities in both developed and developing nations to team up to share planning for rising seas. “Conversations between cities would be very valuable,” she said.

The Bonn meeting, the first U.N. negotiations since Trump took office, worked on issues such as how nations will monitor their greenhouse gas emissions and how to track promises of climate finance for the poor.

“Uncertainty over Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement did not deter delegates here in Bonn, but instead galvanized their resolve to move ahead with climate action,” Greenpeace climate adviser Li Shou said.

Germany said it would provide 70 million euros ($78 million) to fund Fiji’s meeting. The negotiations also approved a draft 2018-19 budget for the U.N. climate change secretariat despite uncertainties about the U.S. contribution.

The Paris Agreement rule book is due to be agreed in 2018.


(Editing by Louise Ireland)
Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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