Tuvalu leader confident Majuro Declaration will work
Tuvalu's prime minister is confident that the Majuro Declaration on climate change leadership will achieve its intended aims.
The prime minister of Tuvalu says he believes the Majuro Declaration made by Pacific leaders earlier this month at their summit in the Marshall Islands will achieve its ultimate goal of a binding agreement on cutting gas emissions.
The declaration commits Pacific countries to taking a lead on climate change and sea level rise, by, for instance, cutting their own use of fossil fuels.
A prominent climate change academic, Clive Hamilton, says in some ways the declaration is a step backwards because the bigger countries, New Zealand and Australia, are not making greater commitments.
But Enele Sopoaga is confident it will work for the small island countries.
ENELE SOPOAGA: I believe it will. And the aim of the Declaration is to leverage and perhaps spark off new momentum for urgent actions to address climate change and sea level rise. Basically, the message is that.
DON WISEMAN: How does the leverage work, though? How do you get those larger countries to buckle?
ES: Yes, it forms the platform for both responsibility and leadership. It's telling the world that what small Pacific island countries are doing in their own countries to show the responsibility to the world that countries are shifting to friendly and renewable energy sources in order to contribute to the overall global efforts to reduce emissions, at the same time, calling on other countries to also follow the leadership that Pacific small island countries are doing.
DW: But isn't it a case of putting the onus on the small island countries? Isn't it a case of putting the onus on the victims?
ES: Absolutely. You have to take responsibility on what you can do. The belief is that we are calling on the industrialised countries, particularly the polluters and all that, but we also need to take responsibility and say 'Right. Let's do it ourselves to show to the world that we can do it and therefore others can also do it'. And island countries have promoted the use of renewable energy and also the leadership to contribute. But we know exactly that the small island countries because we are contributing and have been contributing a very miniscule output to the global greenhouse gas emissions. We know that. I think the commitment is there to tell the world 'Yes, we are doing this on our own'. We didn't need to be told and so on. And the leaders are taking on the responsibility of helping their own island countries. We know exactly the obligations are there for industrialised countries. And that's the message from the Majuro Declaration. We hope that we can take this up to the global level and tell our story there.
DW: But you have the likes of New Zealand, for instance, saying they're going to cut by 5% on 1990 levels and have no immediate intention of doing any more.
ES: Absolutely. I want to remind and clarify, I'm sure other Pacific Island leaders also can do that, to clarify the Majuro Declaration is not a text for negotiation. It is much above that. We know there are negotiations ongoing, we know there are difficulties. New Zealand is not committing to the Kyoto Protocol and, likewise, Australia is not so clear on its targets. But the Declaration is not a text for negotiations. It is a symbolic gesture from the leaders of the Pacific Island countries that things can be doable. If there is strong responsibility, there is strong leadership. And I want to clarify again it is not a negotiation text. we know the positions of those two countries and we are going to deal with that. And we think that the Declaration forms a strong platform for small island states of the Pacific to go out to the world and advocate and also negotiate.There is no binding language in the Declaration, but there are strong signals pointing out the desire of small island countries to urgently reduce greenhouse gases down to less than 350 PPMs. These are well reflected in the Declaration. And from that language you can pick out and share dialogue and consult and negotiate. But the basic message is to cut down emissions as soon as possible and also to work on adaptation for the small island countries. That's the message of the declaration.
DW: In terms of renewable energy moves, what's Tuvalu going to do?
ES: Solar by 2020, 100%.
DW: And is that process underway?
ES: Yes, indeed. I'm so glad the government of New Zealnd is coming on. They're offering to develop partnerships with Tuvalu to start solar installations on all the islands of Tuvalu, like what they have done in Tokelau. The European Union, Japan and all these partners are very keen on this. I would like to have this delivered before Christmas. By Christmas most of the islands' lighting will be switched to solar energy lighting. So these are things we really need to be practical about. And we are going for partners who are working with us, the New Zealand government in particular, the European Union and Japan. And these things are doable. It will save us a lot of money by moving away from petroleum to solar energy. This is just pure economics - poverty reduction strategies and activities.
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