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Cop26: Pacific delegates condemn “monumental failure” that puts islands in peril | Cop26

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Pacific representatives and negotiators condemned the outcome of the Cop26 meeting as being “watered down” and a “monumental failure” that puts Pacific nations in grave existential danger, with one asserting that the refusal to Australia to support the financing of the loss and damage suffered by the countries of the Pacific was “a deep betrayal” of the region.

Some Pacific leaders have expressed mixed optimism about the outcome of the critical climate summit, such as Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who tweeted: “The 1.5 degree target leaves Glasgow bruised, bruised, but alive. “

But many other Pacific experts and climate negotiators were put off by the outcome.

“1.5 is barely alive,” said Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio, senior Pacific policy adviser to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

“The first draft of an otherwise very unambitious text included a notable positive point: the gradual phase-out of coal. It was watered down even further. For a planet in crisis, this represents a monumental failure to recognize the clear and imminent danger in which entire countries now find themselves, including mine.

“Despite all the hype and greenwashing since yesterday, the basic fact remains: we are still moving towards a world of more than two degrees,” he said.

For Samoan negotiator Galumalemana Anne Rasmussen, who is the representative of Small Island Developing States (Sids) at the COP office, the Pacific cannot do everything.

“The Alliance of Small Island States and Pacific Sids has really pushed hard, everyone is committed, but sadly, it is still up to the rich and the rich to determine the fate and direction of these promises and results. “

Tonga’s regional ocean and climate expert Taholo Kami agrees: forced to celebrate painful and minimal changes with text and leave without knowing if it will lead to meaningful results.

In particular, Pacific leaders have been disappointed with the softer language of “phase-out” rather than “phase-out” coal, as well as the lack of firm commitment to funding to pay for losses and losses. damage suffered by Pacific countries due to the climate crisis.

“Cop26 has also failed to adequately recognize our current reality – we are currently facing the impacts of climate change,” said Auimatagi, who has worked with governments in the Pacific as part of the framework convention process. United Nations Conference on Climate Change. “Yet despite their historic responsibility in our current plight, developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have refused to support a loss and damage financing mechanism which, in the case of l Australia represents a deep betrayal and abdication of its responsibilities to its Pacific neighbors. “

Hilda Heine, the former President of the Marshall Islands, who has been a key figure in the climate talks in previous years, tweeted that she was “disappointed with the EU and the US [High Ambition Coalition] members did not join the finance facility to help vulnerable people respond to the loss and damage caused by the industrialized world’s dependence on [fossil fuels] and coal ”.

Despite travel restrictions, costs and health risks, the Pacific Islands sent negotiating teams to Cop26 in hopes of influencing the outcome and ensuring that Pacific concerns are heard.

The Minister of Finance of Tuvalu, one of the atolls considered most at risk of extinction due to rising sea levels, gave a moving speech at the summit in which he spoke of the impact of the climate crisis about his country.

“This is not fiction, it should not be happening in the future – our earth is disappearing fast. Tuvalu literally sinks. We must act now. “

But even the presence of Pacific negotiators could not influence the outcome of the Glasgow summit, which as it stands – even though nationally determined conditional and unconditional contributions to the short-term goal of 2030 were reached – predicted that global warming could still spell the end of some countries in the Pacific atolls.

“Going forward, it is time that we not only consider drastically reducing our consumption of fossil fuels, but also start taking serious steps ahead of Cop27 to stop fossil fuel production altogether and begin a just transition. before it’s too late, ”said Auimatagi. “Only then can we have a real chance to keep 1.5 alive and ensure the survival of our islands – and our planet.”

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