Editorial comment – The issue of climate change

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in their matching "Bula" shirts. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJI GOVT FB

THE revelation that we are not on track even to reach what was agreed in Paris is pretty serious stuff.

Coming from the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, it carries weight.

Addressing youths at an interactive session at the University of the South Pacific in Suva this week, Mr Guterres said climate change was running faster than “what we are” and what was happening in the world was worse than the most dramatic predictions that were made.

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reached an agreement at the COP21 in Paris, France in 2015 to combat climate change and accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

The Paris Agreement is supposed to bring nations under a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

Mr Guterres said things were getting worse as expected.

He spoke about fading political will.

“In Paris we set a goal,” he said.

“Based on the commitments made in Paris, we would reach more than 3 degrees at the end of the century, so we need stronger commitments,” Mr Guterres said.

“And worse than that is the commitment is not being met. We are not on track even to reach what was agreed in Paris. As we are not on track, we need a transformational change.”

Climate change, it seems, is actually rising on the list of voter concerns in the US now.

Reports suggest around 40 per cent of potential voters may see the issue as crucial in how they cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential elections.

This was according to a poll released on Thursday, according to Reuters.

It goes against US President Donald Trump’s stand on the issue, preferring to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries had joined hands to fight climate change.

In November last year, BBC reported Mr Trump cast doubt on a report by his own government warning of devastating effects from climate change.

When questioned about the findings that unchecked global warming would wreak havoc on the US economy, he said: “I don’t believe it.”

The Trump administration has pursued a pro-fossil agenda.

The visit by Mr Guterres to our region, hopefully, would attract enough attention to the plight of Pacific Island countries in the face of changes around them.

If it attracts attention, there is hope it may create awareness about the harsh reality of life in some of our neighbouring countries.

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