Diplomacy

Fiji ratifies Paris agreement and calls on world to follow

As the first country whose parliament approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Fiji has played a key role during a day of ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama signed the agreement and deposited the instruments of ratification with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Fiji joined […]

Staff Writers

April 23, 2016 2:08 pm

As the first country whose parliament approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Fiji has played a key role during a day of ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today joined world leaders to sign the Paris Agreement in New York. (Fijian Government)
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today joined world leaders to sign the Paris Agreement in New York. (Fijian Government)

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama signed the agreement and deposited the instruments of ratification with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Fiji joined 175 other countries who signed the Paris Agreement but was one of only 15 countries to deposit the instruments of ratification. The agreement will come into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance with the Secretary-General.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is seen here at the United Nations chairing the High-Level Event on promoting the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. (Fijian Government)
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is seen here at the United Nations chairing the High-Level Event on promoting the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. (Fijian Government)

In Fiji’s national statement following the official signing ceremony, Prime Minister Bainimarama called for all countries to not only ratify the agreement but to further lower the proposed cap on global warming from 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to 1.5 degrees.

“We in the Pacific are seeking a new cap of 1.5 degrees Celsius as part of our Suva Declaration at the last gathering of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in the Fijian capital. Even this may not be enough given some of the more dire scientific warnings. But we commend the Suva Declaration to you all as a vital next step for the global community as we confront the biggest challenge of our time.”

Following the official signing ceremony, the Prime Minister chaired a high-level event promoting the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement to encourage the remaining countries to ratify the agreement.

The Prime Minister was joined on the podium by the UN Secretary-General, the President of Palau, Arun Benjamin Mason, and the President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, who, with Fiji, are among 12 Small Island Developing States to have lodged their instruments of ratification.

The Prime Minister invited the United States Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry, to be the first speaker from the floor. Secretary Kerry assured the meeting that the U.S. will ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016. A number of other countries also gave assurances that they would ratify the agreement, including Australia, Canada, Argentina, Mali, Norway and the Maldives.

Climate change is threatening the social and economic well-being of not only Fijians but the people of small and vulnerable developing states the world over.

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Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said this while addressing the General Assembly High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in New York today.

PM Bainimarama added that the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change is a positive first step but more needs to be done.

It is impeding our ability to develop strong economies. And unless we can overcome the challenge that climate change poses, there is little hope of countries like Fiji meeting their Sustainable Development Goals. And being able to make the fundamental transformation in the lives of our people that the 2030 global agenda entails.

We desperately need you to side with us not only to arrest the current state of global warming but to help us adapt to the sea level rises and extreme weather events associated with climate change.

Do not abandon us to the terrible fate that awaits us through no fault of our own. The very real prospect that a single climatic event can destroy all the progress we are making to build strong economies and improve the lives of our people.

PM Bainimarama added that Fiji is committed working together and recognising our individual needs and challenges.

Tomorrow, we will sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and I will also have the pleasure of depositing the ratification documents for Fiji. It is a positive first step but not nearly enough to avert catastrophe for many vulnerable states and economies. We need to do more.

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