Pacific Islands Forum- Cooks battles for its climate change funds

Monday August 12, 2019 Written by Published in Economy

A call from Pacific leaders to maximise money from the Green Climate Fund will drive a wedge between countries in desperate need of climate change help.

The Cook Islands is well ahead on accessing funds from the global fund created to support developing countries in responding to the challenge.

Fund director Jerry Velasquez said they would need to replenish the Green Climate Fund from countries like Australia and New Zealand in order to pay for more Pacific projects.

Tuvalu, the most vulnerable to climate change, now has a better chance at increased funding as it highlights its challenges to the world this week.

Velasquez said they went to the Cook Islands for a round table meeting in February, where they discussed access to renewable energy and battery storage to pump water into the reservoirs. The Cook Islands are aiming to convert to 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

The Green Climate Fund aims to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna has told the United Nations that Pacific peoples are depending on urgent climate action and better financial support.

Pacific Islands Forum leaders listened intently yesterday as scientists warned of the rapidly changing climate.

Unlike the Cook Islands, Velasquez said many of the small developing islands had not proposed projects for funding. But he explained to Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga that they had up to $1.5 million at the ready for project preparation or feasibility studies in Tuvalu.

Sopoaga thanked Velasquez: “We can sign an agreement today ... for our island country to survive.”
The Green Climate Fund may be offering to support the people of Tuvalu with mitigation, but Fiji Prime Minister, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama had his proposal: he said the people of Tuvalu were welcome to relocate to Fiji if they needed to.

The Cook Islands delegates, Foreign Affairs Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann, Pacific Division director Jim Armistead and the Prime Minister chief of staff Ben Ponia were alongside Puna at the climate change Sautalaga (discussion) to observe all the Pacific countries’ efforts and ideas to help Tuvalu.


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