Today, government leaders, climate advocates, and civil society will gather in the Cook Islands for the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. The weight of the climate crisis—a stark reality for the Pacific—hangs heavy in the air. For decades, we have stood witness to its unyielding force, and our collective response can be nothing less than resolute. We now stand at the precipice of yet another devastating cyclone season made demonstrably worse by the continued warming of our oceans.
We are indeed at the front lines of the climate crisis but make no mistake – the Pacific remains at the forefront of climate action.
It was only in March of this year when the ‘Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific’ was born in the aftermath of two fierce cyclones in Vanuatu. Since then, we’ve witnessed this powerful proposal gain traction in numerous high-level meetings of governments across the Pacific. It’s no coincidence that on the precipice of the most pivotal regional meeting of the year, Vanuatu grapples with the impacts of yet another Category 5 cyclone. Let there be no doubt—this is a fossil-fueled crisis. Just as we did the last time adversity came pounding on our doorsteps, we will emerge victorious in our resolve to chart the course ahead for climate action.
Our goals are crystal clear. We demand a resounding endorsement of the need to phase out fossil fuels by PIF Leaders, including a commitment to drive this forward at COP28, and support for the development of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Our neighbours in the Global North, especially Australia and New Zealand, must move beyond mere rhetoric and take decisive action against the relentless expansion of coal, oil, and gas. The era of equivocation is behind us. If Australia wishes to stand as a partner in hosting COP31 with the Pacific, it must be a partner in the fight against fossil fuels now.
The Pacific will continue to lead the charge towards a fossil free future, acutely aware of what’s at stake. The world has seen the indomitable spirit of our islands, and we will continue to push so that future generations don’t just survive – but thrive. Come, and join us on this historic voyage.
Fa’afetai tele lava!
Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio
Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative
Please consider helping the progress of the FFNPT (endorsed by CCI) by signing the petition for Aotearoa New Zealand to join the FFNPTI. For a stark reminder of what’s at stake read Antonio Guterres’ impassioned speech from the first UNSC debate on the implications of rising sea levels back in February.
(NB whilst we await the King’s speech please note that the Climate Change Committee does not endorse the Government’s claim that we will require 1/4 of our energy needs to be from gas in 2050, “The data is used from our sixth carbon budget but they used their own calculation to get to that.” )