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“Include oceans in climate change agenda”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has used the Katowice Climate Change Conference to again call for oceans to become an integral part of the continuing climate change agenda.

The Prime Minister made the appeal recently at a side event on the sidelines of the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC in Poland.

“I reiterate the importance of the inextricable links between ocean and climate. A key focus therefore of our engagement of Pacific in the COP process is on this link and the need for oceans to become an integral part of the continuing climate change agenda. 

“The launching of the Oceans Pathway at COP 23 led by Pacific leaders sought to address and strengthen actions related to the ocean–climate nexus,” he said.

Making reference to the potential effects of climate change on Pacific Island communities, should temperatures remain above 1.5 degree Celsius, Tuilaepa warned that current commitments on carbon emissions were not enough, and will fall short of meeting the Paris Agreement’s warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This is why the objective of the Talanoa Dialogue is crucial. That is, we need to raise the level of ambition of the next round of NDCs. We believe the ocean is key to raising these ambitions not only as the Earth’s largest carbon sink, but it has potential for clean energy generation, a source of food security and supply, and a storehouse of ecosystems, which when healthy, can protect coastlines.”

The Prime Minister said the weather and the ocean had a “two-way relationship”, adding that changes in the climate can alter the properties of the ocean.

“Clearly, the ocean is a key component of the climate system. Scientists continue to highlight the critical role played by the ocean in regulating the climate. The ocean is one of the major sinks of carbon sequestration and storage.”

For Pacific Island states, the relationship between the ocean and climate is clear, according to Tuilaepa. 

“Addressing the adverse impacts of climate change and ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources are two key and interlinked priorities for our Blue Pacific. Ocean and Climate Action are two sides of the same coin,” he added.

The COP24 Conference in Poland ends today December 14. 

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