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Fiji: A cry for help at UN climate talks

Fiji, the first small island state to preside the talks, is on the frontline of climate change

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Fiji: A cry for help at UN climate talks

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A plea from the South Pacific has been made under grey November skies in Germany.

Fiji says it is facing soaring costs to protect itself from climate change and has called on the world to do more to curb carbon emissions.

It is the first small island state to preside at UN climate talks since they began in the 1990s.

And Fijian canoes, dancers, huge photographs of palm-fringed islands and flowers have enlivened the COP23 conference centre in the German city of Bonn.

“Unfortunately there are some countries that perhaps bear more of the burden in respect of being the victims, or the frontline I should say, the coal face of climate change,” said Fijian Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

“So we have to be able to ensure that there is a form of assistance for them, a way out of it.”



Small island states have often felt overlooked by big powers even though they are on the frontlines of a rise in sea levels that is causing more storm surges, washes salt onto cropland and could swamp some low-lying coral islands.

Fiji’s chief negotiator Nazhat Shameem Khan told Reuters others should not underestimate small states.

“If you think you’re too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito,” she said, attributing the quote to Anita Roddick, the founder of the cosmetics firm The Body Shop.

Indonesia also knows what it means to be on the climate change frontline. Its delegates attending the negotiaions told Euronews they want a greater focus on ocean protection.



“We are a large archipelagic state,” said Arif Havas Oegroseno, Indonesia’s Deputy Coordinating Minister on Maritime Sovereignty.

“We are not a developing state. We are already a middle income economy in the world. We have some sort of a development in our technology and IT as well but we lost almost 29,000 hectares of land in a number of provinces in Indonesia due to the rising sea level.”

The talks in Bonn, to write a rule book for the Paris climate accord, have been overshadowed by what to do after President Trump decided in June to withdraw the US from the pact, instead preferring to promote coal and oil.


with Reuters