By ILIESA TORA
New York, USA – September 23, 2019 – The Government of Tonga will continue to work on commitments to the Paris Agreement as the Pacific island countries push for more action on climate change.
The Chief Executive Officer for Climate Change and Environment (MEIDECC), Mr Paula Ma’u made the comments in New York today as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit got underway.
Tonga does not have Ministerial representation at the event but Mr Ma’u is here in his capacity as CEO of the Climate Change and Environment Departments in Tonga.
“We will recommit ourselves to what we have already committed to in the Paris Agreement,” Mr Ma’u said.
“The work continues for Tonga and we are committed and carrying out our national programs to achieve the targets and commitments we had made.
“This is important as we must all, as countries and nations of the Pacific and the world, continue to play our part in achieving our national targets, which will contribute to achieving our regional and international commitments.”
The Tongan delegation, which also includes Mr Edgar Cocker Chief Secretary & Secretary to Cabinet, Mr Mahe Tupouniua CEO for Foreign Affairs, Ms Balwyn Faotusia CEO for Finance, HE Vainga Tone Ambassador of Tonga to the UN and USA, Mr Suka Mangisi, Deputy Ambassador, Mr Ilaisipa Alipate Principal Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Mr Ma’u Alipate Principal Assistant Secretary Prime Minister’s Office, today heard the announcement of new pathways and initiatives taken by world leaders, business, and civil society.
As carbon pollution, temperatures, and climate destruction continue to rise, and public backlash mounts, the Summit has offered a turning point from inertia into momentum, action, and global impact – if everyone gets on board.
The UN estimates that the world would need to increase its efforts between three- and five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science – a 1.5°Crise at most – and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world.
However, the Paris Agreement provides an open-door framework for countries to continuously ratchet up their positive actions, and today’s Summit demonstrates how governments, businesses, and civilians around the world are rising to the challenge.
“The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today.
“Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century.
“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.
“This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk,” he added. “This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit.”
Secretary General Guterres said everyone is making commitments to the Paris Agreement.
“Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future. Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways. Coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050,” he said.
“And young people are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action.”
The Pacific Islands as part of the United Nations Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing States and Smaill Island States (UN-OHRLLS) will ne reviewing the SAMOA Pathway on Friday.
The Pathway includes issues that have been discussed today and over the next few days.
NOTE: Iliesa Tora’s presence at the UN Climate Summit has been made possible with funding from the UN-OHRLLS/Islands Voices and the Forum Secretariat (PIFS).