Prime Minister Fiame on point on Climate Change

By The Editorial Board 28 September 2022, 6:00AM

Climate Change was left right and centre of Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s address to the 77the United Nations General Assembly in New York last Friday (Saturday Samoa Time).

Her 14-page speech, which took her 39 minutes to deliver, was divided into 13 subsections including Climate Change. Calling attention to the significance of the issue to Samoa, Climate Change was highlighted in six of the 13 subsections in Fiame’s speech to the General Assembly.

With her predecessor, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi already doing the legwork, in terms of giving visibility to the day-to-day challenges that Pacific island communities including Samoans face from threats posed by rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather conditions, Fiame was expected to up the ante in her first in-person UNGA as Prime Minister and deliver a speech that ultimately should be a call to action.

After 39 minutes, it was a speech delivered with authority and authenticity of an existential threat that will not be going away any time soon, unless action is taken by the big global emitters.

An article in the Sunday 25 September 2022 edition of the Samoa Observer reported on the Prime Minister’s address to the UNGA last Friday.

She said Climate Change remains the number one priority for Samoa as the scientific evidence is clear and irrefutable,” Fiame said. 

"For Pacific communities, the main challenge is securing action for survival, and we all need to shoulder our responsibilities and play our part. 

"The big polluters and emitters have a moral obligation and responsibility to meet their commitments ahead of COP27. 

"Why? Because they hold the key to our achieving the 1.5-degree promise of the Paris Agreement. We call on all parties to commit to more ambitious NDCs to meet the Paris Agreement promise as we are all part of the solution."

Samoa's global commitment is to implement the Paris Agreement which the Prime Minister described as "critical", and warned how limiting to 1.5 degrees will see SIDS "continue to incur severe loss and damage".

According to Fiame, steps towards addressing the world’s greatest threat could start with promoting “smart investments”.

"We must therefore promote recovery investments that are climate smart, resilient, and in line with net zero emissions by 2050," she said.

"We are at the doorstep of COP27, we must work diligently to generate solutions to meet expectations. 

"The achievement of a 50/50 split between mitigation and adaptation funding is of paramount importance to Samoa and SIDS. We should not put out the flame for Loss and Damage." 

We commend the Prime Minister for using her first in-person address to the General Assembly in New York to put world leaders on notice of the dire consequences that awaits humanity if no action is taken.

Taking a business as usual approach to this global threat is not an option, and the Prime Minister really hit home that point, when she emphasised that recent global events showed that its impact is “transboundary” or crossborders.

Fiame warned worsening natural disasters will continue to claim lives as environmental threats worsened and it would be to our detriment to turn a blind eye.

"These environmental threats will worsen. The triple planetary crisis is the alarm knell that is reminding us we are putting immeasurable pressure on the planet,” the Prime Minister said.

"Our relentless need to extract resources from nature is causing disruptions propelling climate change, destroying nature, and raising pollution levels." 

The increase in the intensity of hurricanes in the Americas, Pakistan’s devastating floods that has affected over 33 million and killed over 1000, longer and drier summers in the United Kingdom, and Pacific island communities becoming inundated and overwhelmed by extreme weather conditions, including by rising sea levels are among multiple climate emergency situations facing countries around the world to confirm the uncertainty that humanity now faces.

Where do we go from here now that we have reached what appears to be the crossroads in the debate on climate change as an existential threat to our children’s future?

At the end of this week, on Thursday 28 September and Friday 29 September to be exact, Pacific Island leaders including Fiame will have one foot in the door to push for urgent action when they attend the inaugural U.S.–Pacific Islands Summit in Washington D.C. and meet with the U.S. President Joe Biden.

Prime Minister Fiame has over the last 14 months since taking office demonstrated steadfast leadership, through her patience and tenacity, when interacting with foreign powers hoping to push their agenda. Her determination not to get Samoa to subscribe to any Chinese sponsored plans in June this year – during the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang – and to go through the Pacific Islands Forum is a case in point.

We have no doubt about her commitment to the cause, when she and other Pacific Island leaders visit the White House at the end of this week for the historic meeting, and use it to leverage the voice of the guardians of this great ocean.

By The Editorial Board 28 September 2022, 6:00AM
Samoa Observer

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