3 Dec 2013

Climate change conference frustrating and disappointing - Tuvalu PM

5:49 pm on 3 December 2013

The prime minister of Tuvalu says the recent United Nations climate change conference in Poland was disappointing and frustrating, and showed a lack of urgency to combat climate change.

Enele Sopoaga says climate change is very real for the people of Tuvalu, with some having to abandon their homes on the outer islands.

But he says major industrial nations have wound back their targets, rather than increasing them - showing a complete disregard for people of Tuvalu already being affected by climate change.

ENELE SOPOAGA: It was very disappointing and quite frustrating in that the elements of urgency in fulfilling commitments, they have just disappeared from the radar. People are talking more about industries rather than serving the peoples of the world, but particularly island countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Now the delegations are focusing on systems and industries and that sort of thing, but giving no care at all to the plight that is being faced by the people on the ground in countries like my own, in Tuvalu. There is no sense of urgency to deal with climate change and we know this year is recorded as the year with the highest output of CO2 gases after having gone through the first commitment period of the kyoto protocol it is very, very sad to see this is happening. In fact, humanity is contributing more. There is no benefit, no environmental benefit to the world by global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MARY BAINES: Do you think countries like New Zealand and Australia are doing enough, and other Pacific nations? Do you think there's a lack of help?

ES: It's rather unfortunate and quite discouraging to see some of our colleagues in the region or near by are not fulfilling their commitments under the convention and under the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period. We would be more encouraged if we could see change in policies, particularly for parties to honour their commitments in the convention. It's going to affect everybody, wherever you are in the world and we see major events already happening, but of course some countries have more capability to cope with this than others, and certainly island countries like Tuvalu are totally at the mercy of these elements. We can't simply go on like this and allow the process of climate change to be driven by national interests and the corporate world.

MB: What do you make of suggestions that the people of Tuvalu can move somewhere else?

ES: People have said to me and to Tuvalu that perhaps we can start looking at options of relocation and resettlement. I want to make it very, very clear there's no way people are going to leave Tuvalu and nobody has the right to force the Tuvalu people to leave their islands and move to another place, no. That option is very offensive, very insulting. We want to continue to live in our islands with our culture and with all our livelihoods. We hope humanity will save Tuvalu in order to save the world.