SIS Leaders demand 1.5 degree target

​Smaller Island States Leaders kicked off the weeklong 46th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Port Moresby Monday with a strong statement that the ‘survival and security’ of their nations from the impacts of climate change will not be compromised.

The statement, according to Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu was unanimously supported by all the seven SIS members, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands, Palau and Tuvalu.

For the first time, SIS Leaders met behind closed doors to deliberate issues that concern the grouping, choosing to release a ‘strong’ statement to reflect their unique and special vulnerabilities.

PM Sopoaga told journalists, Small Island States have been advocating strongly for climate change since the early 1990s.

“The main points of the statement reaffirms the many good statements released by political leaders in the Pacific and from subregional groups like the Suva Declaration of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, the Polynesian Leaders statement that calls for a strong and legally binding agreement out of COP21 in Paris, said Sopoaga.

When questioned whether the statement will jeorpadise the solidarity of the Forum, PM Sopoaga said Smaller Island States have unique and peculiar vulnerabilities to climate change.

“We want to make sure this is the last turn of event that ensures protection of the survival of people in Smaller Island States.”

“When we come to the Pacific Islands Forum statement we will talk about it. Right now, I have not seen the draft declaration, said PM Sopoaga.

“It will not jeopardise regional solidarity. For us it’s not a pick and choose situation. We are seeking for a temperature rise of not more than 1.5 degrees. It’s not unreasonable at this stage to be ambitious.

“It’s in the interest of Pacific Island Countries and Pacific communities to seek for this all the way to Paris Pacific Small Island State Leaders demand 1.5 degree target.

President Tommy Remengsau Junior of Palau said the reality for Smaller Island States is that climate change is already here. 

“We need to be frank and honest with reality. And the reality is that it is upon us and whether it is 1.5 and 2 percent, we are already seeing the impact of climate change in Small Island Countries, said the outgoing chair of the SIS, President Remengsau. 

December’s COP 21 in Paris must deliver a legally binding agreement which will among other things limit global average temperature increase to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, smaller members of the Pacific Islands Forum that met in Port Moresby on Monday have proposed. 

In their three page Small Island State Leaders Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change, leaders of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu also wanted a climate change agreement that will include a mechanism to address loss and damage as a stand-alone element’s within that mechanism, create a facility to effectively support people displaced by the impacts of climate change. 

It should also ensure ease of access to adequate and predictable finance, technology and capacity building to ensure that small island developing states and least developed countries can transition to fossil fuel free economies and to have the ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

Leaders of SIS in the Pacific Forum also called for an agreement that will: 

- ensure human rights to exist as a people are protected 

- uphold the polluter pay principle 

- address all sources of greenhouse gas emissions including those from international transport 

-  carry out a review to conduct a major renewal of international mitigation commitments every five years with flexibility for small island developing states and least developed countries to examine the most recent

science, as well as pathways for higher ambition and provide an opportunity to recommit to stronger action. 

The SIS Leaders Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change went onto say:

We Leaders of the Smaller Island States also call on all nations, particularly the advanced economies in our region and beyond to rise to the challenge of climate change and take transformational action to steer us on a path where climate change is no longer a threat to our planet. 

As a first step in this direction we call for a global moratorium on all new coal mines. We cannot afford to lock in any further fossil fuel emissions. Green-Blue economies must be the way for now and into the

future, PM Sopoaga told journalists.