Pacific Elders’ Voice Statement on IPCC AR6 WG2 Report on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”

The Pacific Elders’ Voice (PEV) notes with alarm the findings of the IPCC AR6 Report on ‘Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

It makes grim reading and in the words of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres “is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership”.

The PEV reiterates calls for Developed countries to urgently take bolder actions in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing much needed finance for Adaptation and Loss & Damage to the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS).

Assessment Report Six (AR6) dispenses with hypotheticals, as was the case with the last Assessment Report (AR5), and offers the most comprehensive analysis of how we have already changed our climate beyond many ecosystems’ ability to cope. The Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5°C will be breached within decades, leading to “unavoidable increases in multiple climate hazards”.

The Report unequivocally shows climate change is not a future threat. It is here now and is affecting the poorest, most vulnerable in every society around the world. The analysis reaffirms that the climate emergency is already having a profound impact on humanity at 1.1°C of warming and underscores the global injustice of climate disasters.

The Pacific Island countries (PICs) are least responsible for global warming and biodiversity loss, and are amongst the world’s most vulnerable, facing the severest consequences that will continue to worsen in years to come. The impacts and disasters such as cyclones and floods are already taking its toll on the PICs and its people. The limits to adaptation are already being tested in ecosystems such as coral reefs and in the households of families who face constant flood risk and inundation due to sea level rise, but lack the means to move to safer ground.

Climate Change is the most pressing security issue for the PICs, and the IPCC report confirms the urgency for global climate actions.

Adaptation efforts so far have been largely incremental. As home to some of the most vulnerable countries in the world, especially the atoll countries facing existential threat to climate change, we whole heartedly support the Report’s call for ‘transformational’ change in the way we will deal with energy and food security, fresh water supplies, ecosystem damage and loss of land due to sea level changes and coastal degradation.

We need to take heed of the biggest barriers such as finance, capacity, technology and leadership to building resilience. The report advises we must address inequality between rich and poor, which it says exacerbates vulnerability to climate change and undermines our capacity to adapt.

The $100b pledge by wealthy nations a decade ago remains unfulfilled and only a fraction of this has gone towards adaptation. We want financial help, both to defend against future threats and to compensate for damages that can’t be avoided.

We welcome the focus on “climate resilient development”. Cultural resources and traditional knowledge play an important role in climate change adaptation on small islands in the Pacific and contribute significantly to adaptive capacity and resilience.

As the window to save ourselves from climate change is ‘rapidly closing’, according to IPCC, we reiterate the call to limit the global temperature to 1.5°C, which will require the world to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.This should go hand in hand with resources for accelerated action to adapt to the climate crisis.

The Ukraine crisis should not distract policymakers from taking coordinated action to decarbonise the global economy. Whilst the crisis underscores how our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes our economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises, it reinforces the need to accelerate the energy transition to a renewable energy Future.

This would be the only way of ensuring resilience and security for the Pacific Island countries and its people, avoiding mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure and preventing large parts of our islands becoming uninhabitable.

This is a collective statement from Pacific Elders’ Voice. For further information, please contact us.

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