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Sua William Sio: COP21 and the Pacific Islands

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, December 12th, 2015 - 25 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, global warming, john key, national, same old national - Tags: , ,

Sua William Sio

When the dust has settled on Climate Change negotiations at the COP21 Paris meeting, America, New Zealand and the many other industrial nations will return to the comfort of their homes for a well-earned break. The world media will return pleased with their coverage of the Paris conference.

France will congratulate themselves for a job well done in hosting a safe and robust conference. Environmental activists will return home satisfied they have pressured industrial nations to do the right thing by highlighting the hypocrisy of promises made versus the opposing actions of some nations who say one thing, and does something else. But what about the Pacific Island nations?

Pacific island leaders attended COP21 determined to fight for their right to live in their Pacific island homes. They were very clear that it is the economic activities, the fossil fuel appetites of industrial nations that is accelerating climate change. The destructive effects of climate change is causing harm at a rapid pace to the most vulnerable, low-lying atolls, such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands.

The sea levels are constantly rising with each incoming tide, destroying crops, undermining foundations of homes, roads and disrupting economic activities. Eventually the most vulnerable islands will be under water. The acidification of the ocean also undermines drinking water supplies. It destroys food crop supplies and damages flora and fauna. The reality for the Pacific island nations is that they are now almost at a constant state of emergency with storms and hurricanes becoming more frequent and more intense.

From the start of COP21, the Pacific Island Countries had wanted a Treaty that was legally binding on all nations. From their perspective it wasn’t just about the islands, it was about saving the world from itself. However, it wasn’t what the USA, New Zealand and others wanted. The industrialized countries instead framed the debate to focus on a non-binding agreement.

Pacific island nations were united on a 1.5 degree temperature limit. Others championed a 2 degree limit, arguing that 1.5 degrees was too hard.

Industrial nations committed billions of dollars to the Green Climate Fund but made it extremely difficult for Pacific Island nations to access these funds for damage control projects.

Embarrassingly, New Zealand showed itself up as a weak leader, earning itself dishonorable recognition for both Messers Key and Grosser’s contributions with two Fossil of the Day Awards. I suspect both will be content. Mr Key will fly off and holiday in Hawaii. Mr Groser will take up a new posting as Ambassador to the USA.

For the Pacific and its peoples, when all is said and done, and irrespective of the text of the final agreement, and when everyone else has returned safely to their homes, the Pacific delegations will return to face their reality and the constant quest to find answers to address their real and immediate plight.

How do we survive the constant onslaught of climate change impact? Merry Christmas.

25 comments on “Sua William Sio: COP21 and the Pacific Islands ”

  1. AmaKiwi 1

    27 years ago Marilyn Waring (Counting for Nothing) attacked our GDP accounting system for counting destruction of natural resources as positive rather than negative.

    If we take a million barrels of oil out of the ground, the resource is gone forever. It’s a permanent loss for the country and future generations. Instead, our GDP system measures it as good because it makes profits.

    We use an accounting system which measures an evil as a good; which rewards destruction.

    I have not answered the question, “How do we survive the constant onslaught of climate change impact?” I’m pointing out how difficult it is for our profit driven society to find daylight when it’s core principles are about sticking our heads up our asses.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      If we take a million barrels of oil out of the ground, the resource is gone forever.

      Which is, of course, what makes renewable energy always cheaper – it simply doesn’t continue to use up precious resources.

      Our entire system is wrong. It pushes the idea that using more resources costs less, that private business will always do things better than the government when the opposite is true and that private ownership will always bring about the best result while reality shows that private ownership brings about the worst result.

    • Smilin 1.2

      The accounting system is there so that those who profit the most dont have to be responsible for their destruction and greed of the worlds resources and covering the actions with the next God redemption of PROFIT for the good of all, giving credence to their supposed philanthropic nature in being in business and their way is the only way to run the world

  2. Ad 2

    Key’s government will simply have to find out about sea level rise the hard way. On New Zealand, the greatest impact upon people’s daily lives will be in cities; Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga, and a few parts of Wellington and Auckland’s coasts. Billions upon billions of losses.

    There was a not too distant past in which New Zealand was a good friend of a number of Pacific island countries – with particular responsibility for the Cook Islands and still for Tuvalu. Key in particular has deeply degraded our strong historical diplomatic core with Pacific islands and essentially handed it to the Chinese via their aid.

    When Fran O’Sullivan calls for binding targets and scolds the New Zealand position as “muddled” and “untenable”, you know how John Key looks:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11559889

    We are now a weaker part of the world for Key’s poor international leadership.

    • Pat 2.1

      before the actual loss of billions in infrastructure and property NZ (and others) will have to deal with the undermining of our financial system when the insurers progressively remove /limit cover on those assets….an action that has already begun and will only accelerate.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        That’s what I was hinting at in “billions and billions of losses”.
        Definitely easy to see climate change being insurance-industry led in near future. Hero Adjusters! (ahem)(cough)

    • New Zealand will also have to make provision for climate refugees coming from the likes of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu where a combination of sea level rise and salination is making these places gradually more and more inhospitable to humans.

      I have yet to hear any one in National fully acknowledge this.

  3. ianmac 3

    I read somewhere this morning that NZ had buckled to the call for 1.5 degrees.

  4. Bill 4

    A couple of things about 1.5 degrees.

    Bearing in mind that 2 degrees is more or less impossible now, what’s with the nonsense of ‘making a decision’ to limit warming to 1.5 degrees?

    When governments scraped their signatures to the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 they signed up to adopt notions of equity and scientific feasibility when tackling climate change. Are these things now to be jettisoned?

    An impossible target being thrown out there as a ‘decision’ might convince anyone who hasn’t been paying attention that governments are in control of the situation. And a 1.5 degree target could be used as a huge stick to beat the crap out of the worlds poorest people should they (or their governments) be thinking about laying in basic infrastructure (power and transport systems, water networks and hospitals etc)

    • Murray Simmonds 4.1

      Sorry to say it, but i think you are probably right about that, Bill. Likewise Draco T. Gareth Morgan makes a similar point over on his blog in a new posting there. I find his arguments, alas, fairly convincing.

      What we DON’T know is how a 2 degree increase will pan out across the planet. Obviously some countries will be more heavily impacted than others. (The Siberians for example may relish the idea of warmer, though stormier winters?).

  5. Manuka AOR 5

    The appointment of Bennett as Climate Change Minister says it all. The present NZ govt does not give a toss!

    “The sea levels are constantly rising with each incoming tide, destroying crops, undermining foundations of homes, roads and disrupting economic activities. Eventually the most vulnerable islands will be under water. The acidification of the ocean also undermines drinking water supplies. It destroys food crop supplies and damages flora and fauna. The reality for the Pacific island nations is that they are now almost at a constant state of emergency with storms and hurricanes becoming more frequent and more intense.”

  6. BLiP 6

    COP21 is a waste of time. TiSA is going to limit what few options New Zealand has left after the TPPA is signed . . .

    . . . Our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is designed to reduce New Zealand’s contribution to global climate change, and to meet our obligations under the Kyoto protocol. The government has proposed legislation that will extend the transition period for full implementation of the ETS indefinitely. If New Zealand were to sign-up to the TPPA with the ETS in such a weakened form, any future changes to the scheme to seriously address climate change would risk ISDS litigation from overseas companies invested in New Zealand farming or industrial operations . . .

    “How do we survive the constant onslaught of climate change impact?” <— get rid of National Ltd™ and vote Green. Its the only chance Pacifika and New Zealand has over the long term.

    • Bill 6.1

      Can’t say I have any problem with any and all Emission Trading Schemes crashing and burning. They’re a dangerous con that do absolutely nothing in terms of global emissions reduction and may well actually increase global emissions.

      • BLiP 6.1.1

        Carbon tax – simple, easy, cheap to run, and stimulates effort into developing alternatives.

        (My link to the quote in Comment 6 has disappeared into the ether. It comes from here —> http://itsourfuture.org.nz/tppas-effect-on-the-new-zealand-environment/)

        • Bill 6.1.1.1

          Carbon tax is much better. The only question is whether any market based mechanism can bring the reductions we need fast enough. 15% every year from western countries for a mere 50/50 punt at 2 degrees is a big call. To put that into perspective, just 4 or 5 years ago, the west needed 10% p.a. reductions for a 50/50 punt. Things are moving very, very fast.

    • Manuka AOR 6.2

      “Its the only chance Pacifika and New Zealand has over the long term.”

      We don’t have a “long term”. The changes are here NOW! From what Sua William Sio has written above: ” The reality for the Pacific island nations is that they are now almost at a constant state of emergency “

      And Key appoints Madam Bennett as “Climate Change Minister”!

      Given that our neighboring Islands are now virtually in a constant state of emergency, for us to speak of the effects as being away some time in the future is, as Naomi Klein has noted, “subliminally racist”. And, in this same situation, for the govt to appoint someone to the Ministerial post who openly denigrates people who speak out about environmental problems and who seems almost to wear her lack of knowledge of these matters as a badge of honour, appears to be overtly racist.

      From Amy Goodman’s interview with Naomi Klein:
      “We are already living the era of dangerous warming. It is already costing thousands of lives and livelihoods, from the Philippines to Bangladesh to Nigeria to New Orleans and the Marshall Islands—I could go on and on. But it’s important to understand that language matters and that when we speak about dangerous warming as something that is far off in the distance, it is nothing less than, as my friend Kumi Naidoo put it yesterday, “subliminal racism.” And that racism is getting less subliminal every day. We are discounting lives when we speak that way, and we have to stop doing it.” http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/9/naomi_klein_decries_climate_deal_as

  7. MeganF 7

    Climate change refugees will become a reality sooner than NZ thinks and as the closest neighbour to many of the affected Pacific Islands there needs to be more thought on how we will support these countries from the imminent reality of displacement.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      If “we” involves the National Party in any government role, the answer to how we will support our neighbours is two words: “we won’t”.

      • Tautuhi 7.1.1

        It will not be John Key’s problem he will be gone after the 2017 or 2020 Election, also NZ’s overseas debt will not be his problem, it will be our problem the taxpayers.

        • Smilin 7.1.1.1

          When he does go I wonder if all his blind trust profits and Natcorps increased coffers could be assessed for liable contribution to the nations debt incurred by his and their mismanagement of the economy and his liability in failing to serve the nations best interest
          Sort of a Truth and Reconciliation process like has happened in SA after apartheid

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    Editorial: An inviting waterfront the answer

    Tauranga City Council’s proposed revamp of Tauranga’s downtown waterfront is just what the city needs.

    Overwhelming public support has helped drive the first round of decisions to spend $3.2 million to develop the plan.

    City councillors this week agreed to press ahead with preparing detailed designs on the plan to build tidal steps down to the harbour’s edge in front of the children’s playground and Hairy Maclary statues.

    This whole lunacy around global warming reminds me of the opening in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds:

    It seems totally incredible to me now that everyone spent that evening as though it were just like any other. From the railway station came the sound of shunting trains, ringing and rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance. It all seemed so safe and tranquil.

    And that’s exactly how we’re reacting

    • Halfcrown 8.1

      Nice one Draco That was a good trip down memory lane before the neo rightwing fuckwits had got the cradle marks off their arses and fucked the world

      Off topic Draco a great set of records like vinyl LP’s in a sleeve type cover complete with great book of artwork. I still have mine. great narrative by Richard Burton and great lyrics like

      “They said the chances of anything coming from Mars was a thousand to one, but still they came.”

      I suppose we can apply this to Tauranga City Council

      The chances of the sea levels rising are a thousand to one, But still it rose.

  9. Poission 9

    The reality for the Pacific island nations is that they are now almost at a constant state of emergency with storms and hurricanes becoming more frequent and more intense.

    The reality for the south pacific is that they are neither more frequent or intense in the 21st century.

    http://blog.metservice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Number-and-intensity-of-cyclones-in-the-South-Pacific.png

  10. Bill 10

    Kevin Anderson talking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now from Paris…

    http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/8/top_climate_expert_crisis_is_worse

  11. sabine 11

    How do we survive the constant onslaught of climate change impact?

    We don’t.

    Merry Christmas indeed.

    Northwestern US.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/12/pacific-northwest-braces-for-mudslides-as-record-setting-rainfall-continues/

    quote: ……In a rare event for the Pacific Northwest, the National Weather Service on Thursday said it had received reports of a moderate-strength tornado in Battle Ground, Washington. Television footage showed residents clearing debris from roads and blue tarps covering damaged roofs.

    NWS forecasters have also warned Alaskans about a powerful encroaching storm that could bring hurricane-force winds to the Aleutian Islands over the weekend. AccuWeather said that system could become “the strongest on record” for the region.

    Meteorologists say the El Nino weather phenomenon, which can trigger above-average precipitation on the West Coast, is expected to remain strong through this winter.

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