Fiji urges "absolute dedication" to toughest climate target

OSLO (Reuters) - Fiji called on Tuesday for “absolute dedication” to the strictest limits on global warming as it prepares to preside over U.N. talks next month seeking to keep the Paris climate agreement on track despite a U.S. pullout.

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji addresses the 71st United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Fiji is hosting a preparatory meeting of delegates before the Nov. 6-17 talks in Bonn, Germany, where environment ministers from around the world will work on a set of international guidelines for the Paris accord.

“We can no longer ignore this (climate) crisis,” Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in an address to the delegates.

The 2015 Paris agreement was dealt a major blow in June when President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the accord. The United States, the world’s second highest gas emitter after China, is the only one of the deal’s 195 original backers to pull out.

The accord sets a target of limiting a rise in average surface temperatures to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, ideally 1.5C (2.7F).

“An absolute dedication to meet the 1.5 degree target is what we need and what we must take to Bonn,” Bainimarama said.

“It’s hard to find any part of the world that is unaffected” by a changing climate, he said, listing Atlantic storms such as Ophelia battering Ireland, wildfires in California, Portugal and Spain, and floods in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh.


Some of Fiji’s islands are vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, aggravated by storm surges, but less so than low-lying states such as the Maldives, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Many scientists say that the 1.5 degree goal is fast slipping out of reach because of insufficient action by almost all governments to rein in climate change.

Bainimarama did not refer to Trump, who has sometimes dismissed mainstream scientific findings about rising temperatures as a hoax and says that instead he wants to bolster the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

In Oslo, Hoesung Lee, head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists which is studying the 1.5C goal, declined to say whether early drafts indicated it was still feasible.

“The conclusion will be available one year from now... we should be patient,” he told reporters in Oslo after a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Solberg said the Paris temperature targets had to be built into wider development goals. “We have to make sure that we do have job creation, fight poverty at the same time,” she said.

Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Gareth Jones