Proposed Forum Leaders climate change declaration reflects wider membership, PIFS adviser

The draft Climate Change declaration to go before the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders this week will be a ‘balanced and unique’ statement reflecting the wider membership of the 16 member countries.

Briefing journalists in Port Moresby Saturday, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s acting climate change finance adviser, Exley Taloiburi said the draft text will be further tweaked by Senior Officials before the Leaders retreat in Port Moresby on Thursday. Forum member countries were given another opportunity to comment on the proposed political statement before the draft is ready for the Leaders this week.

“Leaders will have the space and time to have frank and open discussion and present their views on climate change, even if they have concerns or don’t agree with Australia and New Zealand’s position. This is the space for Leaders to openly debate these kinds of issues, Taloiburi told journalists.

He said Leaders are expected to adopt a high level political statement on climate change that will be taken to the global climate change negotiations in Paris in December this year.

 “We welcome all the declarations that have come out of the region because they add momentum to the discussion in the lead up to the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. These multiple declarations from the region would help demonstrate to the world the seriousness of these issues in our region.”

“We will acknowledge other statements where necessary. It’s not intended to undermine or compare with other statements coming out from the region.

“For us in the region, the statement from Forum Island Leaders will add weight to other declarations. Our statement has representation from the entire region from the smaller island states to the biggest countries like PNG amongst our membership, said the PIFS adviser on climate change. Taloiburi said Pacific Leaders just need a consensus to adopt the high level political declaration to Paris.

“If only we could have the leaders have consensus for Paris, then we are a step ahead of all other regions. The strength of the language doesn’t matter because the statement will still have to go through negotiations in Paris.

“Our declaration will be unique because it will reflect the views of Annex 1 countries, which includes Australia and New Zealand and Non-Annex 1 countries made up of all the 14 member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum, said Taloiburi.

 A senior Forum Island Country official told PACNEWS the final declaration needs to be strong.

“In comparison, declarations from sub-regional grouping are stronger than the current draft before the Leaders. The Suva Declaration on Climate Change by the Pacific Islands Development Forum is pretty strong and ably reflects the concerns of Pacific Island Countries especially on the issues of temperature of 1.5 degrees to stay alive and loss and damage, said the official. Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor is aware of the differences in position and hopes they will be captured in the final document.

“Leaders have said if there are going to be differences of opinion, how are we going to deal with that? The leaders have to work that out themselves. That’s about owning the politics of it. “Pacific Island Forum Countries have been consistent about their positions. The temperature issue and loss of damage have been down played. Australia and New Zealand will need to come into the fold, and that will make me happy, said Dame Meg Taylor.

Climate change is one of the five priority issues that form the agenda of the Leaders retreat whent they meet on Thursday at the Grand Papua Hotel in downtown Port Moresby.