Port Vila call to phase out fossil fuels

On day 2 of the summit in Port Vila as ministers and government officials join a community-led action. Photo: Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN)

On day 2 of the summit in Port Vila as ministers and government officials join a community-led action. Photo: Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN)

Six Pacific nations pledge to phase out fossil fuels “as soon as possible” but need international partners to finance the transition.

A Pacific minister’s climate conference was attended by seven nations over three days in Vanuatu last week – only days after back-to-back category four cyclones.

The conference resulted in six countries signing the Port Vila call for a just transition to a fossil fuel free Pacific.

The signatories – Tonga, Fiji, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – acknowledged the cyclones as the latest example of “fossil fuel-induced loss and damage” in the region.

The nations agreed to establish a Pacific Energy Commissioner for a “Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific”. The commissioner is to be formalised at the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum Summit meeting in October or November.

The countries are also calling for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, which seeks the end of fossil fuel expansion. The treaty was already signed by Tuvalu and Vanuatu prior to the meeting.

They also agreed to join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, an international coalition to facilitate oil and gas production phase-out.

Joseph Sikulu from climate change organisation 350.org said the message from the Pacific nations was a clear rejection of fossil fuels.

“[The message was] we want renewables, we have the solutions, we just need the world to really step up with the finances that have been promised,” Sikulu said.

“Our leaders have set out a clear pathway through this but it’s now up to us as civil society and as a community to support that as much as we can.”

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Photo: 123RF

Summit may set fossil free deadline

Regional policy coordinator for Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), Lavetanalagi Seru, said no time had been set for when the Pacific needed to be fossil fuel free but thought a date would be set at the Pacific Island Leaders Forum Summit.

The countries agreed to “dramatically scaling up” the deployment of renewable energy, including sustainable transport systems.

It also calls on international partners to mobilise billions of US dollars needed in grant based financing and direct investments into Pacific Island countries.

Seru said it would be financed under the agreements’ third call for “expanded public and private finance”.

“We know that developed countries who committed to delivering the $US100 billion per year haven’t delivered that,” he said.

“These funds are needed here in the Pacific and other small island states to really support this kind of initiative, the transition to renewable energy.”

It also asked for climate financing to be easier to access for Pacific nations.

The Pacific Conference of Churches has partnered with Green Faith, an inter-religious global movement which calls for the end of fossil fuels.

Archive picture of fossil fuel protest involving Pacific church groups Photo: PCC

‘UN must make good on climate loss fund decision’

Climate justice organisation, ActionAid is also pushing for climate-affected communities to get access to money.

Global lead on climate justice at ActionAid International, Teresa Anderson said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released Tuesday were already worse than predicted a few years ago.

“It proves the urgent need for the UN to make good on last year’s historic decision at COP27 to create a new fund to help communities affected by climate-induced loss and damage,” Teresa Anderson said in a statement.

The six countries said the phase out of fossil fuels needed to be “just and equitable”; Seru said this meant communities would be consulted on changes.

“It doesn’t lead to things like the need to extract more minerals from our ocean through deep sea mining,” he said.

“We need to transition at a pace that is rapid but also ensures that everybody who relies on fossil fuel industries have what they need in order to get out of that,” he said.

The countries will also ask the UN general assembly to request a non-binding advisory opinion from the international court of justice on the obligations of states under international law to protect the climate.