SUVA, Jun 2 – The head of upcoming UN climate talks vowed Friday that the fight against global warming would continue despite Washington’s “unfortunate” decision to abandon the Paris climate deal.
Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who will serve as president of the COP 23 talks in Germany later this year, labelled the US move “deeply disappointing”.
“While the loss of America’s leadership is unfortunate, this is a struggle that is far from over,” he said.
The COP 23 talks will be held in Bonn from November 6-17, with Germany inviting Fiji’s PM to act as president to give a voice to those on the frontline of climate change.
Bainimarama’s Pacific island nation has already felt the impact of climate change through wild storms such as last year’s Cyclone Winston, which killed 44 people and wiped out a third of the economy.
Neighbouring states such as Tuvalu and Kiribati are in danger of being swamped by rising seas linked to global warming.
Bainimarama said the rest of the world remained committed to the Paris deal, known as COP 21, struck in 2015 and signed by more than 190 countries.
“As incoming COP president, I reaffirm that I will do everything possible to continue to forge a grand coalition that will accelerate the momentum that has continued since the Paris Agreement,” he said.
He predicted Washington would eventually reverse its decision.
“I am also convinced that the United States Government will eventually rejoin our struggle because the scientific evidence of man-made climate change is well understood,” he said.
“The issue is settled, and the impacts are obvious, and humankind ignores these facts at its peril.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett said many of the claims made by US President Donald Trump were simply incorrect.
“So much of what he said is wrong. It’s not going to cost America to be in it disproportionately to others,” she told Radio New Zealand.
“Climate change and what we need to do there can create jobs, not take them away.”
Australia’s Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said Canberra remained on track to meet its Paris targets and US withdrawal would not derail the deal.
“I do believe it is still a very meaningful agreement… even without the US around 70 percent of the world’s emissions are covered by that agreement,” he told ABC radio.