The Pacific island leaders reconfirm climate change as “the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific” and emphasize the urgency of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C “through rapid, deep and sustained” GHG emission reductions.
The leaders also welcome progress on Vanuatu’s initiative on “a pathway to secure a request from the UN General Assembly [...] for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice [...] to clarify legal consequences of climate change”.
Pacific island leaders have issued a communiqué declaring that the Pacific is facing a climate emergency that “threatens the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of its people and ecosystems,” as evidenced by “the latest science and the daily lived realities in Pacific communities.”
The leaders made the announcement at the conclusion of the 51st Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Meeting, which took place in Suva, Fiji, from 11-14 July 2022.
In their communiqué, the leaders outline their priorities for the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November. They reconfirm climate change as “the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific,” emphasize the urgency of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C “through rapid, deep and sustained” greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, and call on all parties to the Paris Agreement on climate change to “ensure that COP 27 delivers clear progress on turning pledges and commitments into action.”
Reaffirming their own collective goal “to achieve carbon neutrality in the Pacific by 2050,” the leaders urge heavily emitting countries to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 and to submit enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs) before COP 27.
In his statement on the meeting’s outcomes, PIF Chair, Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama called for “end[ing] our fossil fuel addiction, including coal.” “That is our ask of Australia. That is our ask of New Zealand, the USA, India, the European Union, China and every other high-emitting country. It is also what Fiji asks of ourselves, though our emissions are negligible,” he said.
Among other COP 27 deliverables, the communiqué calls for: developed countries to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation from 2019 levels by 2025; advancing work on the ocean-climate nexus; and “meaningful progress” on the new collective quantified climate finance goal. They further urge progress on the Glasgow Dialogue on funding arrangements for averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage and on the operationalization of the Santiago Network for loss and damage.
The leaders also welcome progress on Vanuatu’s initiative on “a pathway to secure a request from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clarify legal consequences of climate change,” including progress on ongoing international and regional consultations. The leaders note that while non-binding, an ICJ advisory opinion “may change the course of current negotiations and boost commitments,” and call on the UNGA to adopt a resolution requesting such an opinion.
With respect to fisheries, the leaders encourage World Trade Organization (WTO) members “to work together to conclude the remaining pillar of the fisheries subsidies negotiations on Overcapacity and Overfishing to protect the sustainability of fish stocks and provide appropriate Special and Differential Treatment for developing and least developing countries” (LDCs).
Pacific Political Climate Champions met ahead of the PIF Leaders Meeting to “explore new approaches elevating [the] Pacific voice and strategic political engagement at the COP.” They said, “COP 27 needs to be an implementation COP,” with Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister of Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum calling for “a strong reference to the ocean” in its outcome. He called for decarbonizing the shipping sector, creating climate-resilient fisheries, and developing aquaculture and ocean-based renewable energy “to protect both our oceans and our economy.”