Prime Minister tells COP25 climate change greatest threat to Tonga; report says change is happening sooner and is worse than predicted

    Climate change was the single greatest threat to Tonga and the Pacific Island countries Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa told the UN climate change meeting in Madrid this week.

    The Prime Minister told the COP 25 meeting said Tonga’s vulnerability to climate change made it the second most at-risk country in the world.

    His comments came after a report that says the effects of climate change in the Pacific have happened a lot sooner and are a lot worse than had been predicted.

    Dr Elizabeth Holland at the University of the South Pacific said the report made a dire forecast about the future of the ocean and that drastic action was needed soon.

    Urgent

    Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said Tonga stood in solidarity with all other Small Island Developing States in calling for urgent action to combat climate change.

    “The effects of climate change continue to threaten the environment, land, the ocean and marine resources, upon which the livelihood and existence of our people depend.

    “In the course of time and as science tells us, these impacts are rapidly exacerbating our vulnerabilities and swiftly eroding our capacities for resilience.

    The Prime Minister said the kingdom had suffered unprecedented rates of coastal erosion, inundation, flash flooding, sea-level rise and intense tropical cyclones.

    Hon. Tu’i’onetoa cited the Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Kainaki II Declaration and called for urgent climate action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

    During the Conference, the Prime Minister and the Tongan delegation met with the Asian Development Bank, the Green Climate Fund, the International Solar Alliance and representatives of New Zealand and Norway to foster closer mutual cooperation in the fight against climate change.

    Projects managed  by the government and funded by international donor organisations include US$23.8 million being spent on the Climate Resilient Sector Project and US$26.1 million being spent on renewable energy in the outer islands.

    Other projects included the Tonga Renewable Energy project of US$53.2 million for solar batteries in Tongatapu, Matafonua, Kolovai and Fahefa, the US$20 million Nuku’alofa Integrated Development fund , the US$45 million allocated to the Fanga’uta Bridge and the proposed Climate Resilient pathway projects with the Green Climate Fund of US$250 million.

    Terrifying crisis

    Fijian Prime Minister Frank rank Bainimarama told the Madrid conference  several western countries were only paying what he called lip service to the vulnerability of Pacific countries, while actively denying scientific consensus.

    The Fijian leader said humanity was on the cusp of a terrifying crisis.

    And Samoa’s delegation warned the conference: “Your turn will come.”

    “While Samoa and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are victims now of the impacts of climate change, as sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, your turn will come, sooner rather than later,” H.E Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia said.

    “There is a misguided notion to portray climate change as a small island developing states concern only.

    “Nothing can be further from the truth. Climate change crosses borders by force and uninvited and does not discriminate by size or might.”

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