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Fighting Ocean Pollution and Climate Change Is a Two-Front War


Incoming COP23 President

Speaking to Pacific island leaders and diplomats in Suva last week, the incoming President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November (COP23), Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, said his most important goal was to preserve the multilateral consensus for decisive action on climate change that was reached in the Paris Climate Change Agreement at the end of 2015.

“We cannot afford to have any government renege on the commitments that were made. Many countries face short-term domestic pressures, and there is no doubt that changing the behaviors that led us to this crisis will not be easy, but the rewards will be great. And besides, we have no choice,” he said.

The Fijian Prime Minister was speaking at a preparatory meeting for the UN Ocean Conference in June. The conference is designed to help reverse the decline in the health of world’s oceans, currently under threat from growing pollution and the impacts of climate change.

“In a very real sense, we are fighting a two-front war. One front is the fight to keep the oceans clean and to sustain the marine plant and animal life on which we depend for our livelihoods and that keep the earth in proper balance,” the Fijian leader said. “The other front is the fight to slow the growth of global warming and, unfortunately, also to adapt to the changes we know are coming – to rising seas, encroaching sea water, violent storms and periods of drought.”

The Fijian Prime Minister called on Pacific island leaders to persuade all governments to adhere to the universal agreement clinched in Paris and to fully implement it, and to prompt other leaders to start devising more radical action to accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions. In terms of his priorities for COP23, the incoming President of the Bonn meeting Voreqe Bainimarama said he intended to place a special emphasis on climate adaptation through financial models and technical solutions, to get the world to focus on developing new and innovative ways to build resilience to the effects of climate change.

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