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Climate message

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday broke out the sports metaphors in his latest address on climate change.

He called on US President Donald Trump not to deviate when a game plan was clear. He compared Fiji's unconventional brand of rugby to the unconventional nature of COP 23 which marks the first time the COP presidencies will not be from the host nation, Germany.

In his address at the 4th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit in Melbourne, Australia, Mr Bainimarama said he had asked Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to convey the plea when he meets Mr Trump later this week.

"As a Fijian, I am fond of sporting analogies in my speeches at home, and especially the need for teamwork to achieve any objective at all. So I'm sure you'll excuse me for saying that the world needs more teamwork on climate change right now than ever before," Mr Bainimarama said.

"As in the case of our Olympic world champion rugby sevens team, we can't have one of our best performers abandon the field of play. So my message to Donald Trump and the message I hope that Prime Minister Turnbull will also convey to him is very simple.

"Mr President, please do not abandon the Paris Agreement. Stay the course. Listen to those around you who are encouraging you to do so. Don't let the whole side down by leaving when we have a clear game plan and have put so many scores on the board. Let's see this process through for the benefit of all 7.5 billion people on planet Earth, including your own citizens in the vulnerable parts of America."

Mr Bainimarama also acknowledged the Paris Agreement reached at COP 21 was France's gift to the world, calling it "a triumph of dogged negotiation and diplomacy" but added that the work was not done.

"The Paris Agreement must be implemented in full and the groundwork laid for even more ambitious action down the track. And that means every nation fulfilling the pledges they made in Paris. And demonstrating an unwavering commitment to see this process through.

"Last year, the ball was passed to Morocco and now it has moved out through the backline to Fiji. And we're going to run with it as hard as we can. And in the Fijian way, dodging every attempt to tackle us."

But Mr Bainimarama, who also called himself the team coach at this year's COP 23, said there were still challenges Fiji faced in getting the presidency together.

"With more than 20,000 people expected in Bonn, we could never have staged an event on this scale in Fiji. But thanks to Germany, the voice of the Pacific will be heard. The voice of the region bearing the brunt of climate change will be heard. And COP 23 Fiji in Bonn is a selfless act of generosity on the part of the German Government and the German people that we in the Pacific will never forget.

"Of course, we still have to fund the Fijian presidency itself. And we have gone to the world seeking support in the form of contributions to enable us to do this job properly on behalf of everyone. I have to say that the response so far has been disappointing. And if any of you can assist with this effort, I am especially keen to hear from you. Because we have a lot of ground to cover in the next six months and we need to do it well."

Mr Bainimarama said he would remain impartial as president but would bring a Pacific perspective to the proceedings.








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