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Mixed reaction to climate deal

Tuesday 15 December 2015 | Published in Regional

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PACIFIC – Greenpeace says the climate change agreement struck in Paris over the weekend does not go far enough to protect Pacific countries from catastrophic events caused by climate pollution.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries unanimously agreed to the deal after two weeks of gruelling negotiations at the United Nations COP21 conference.

The agreement aims to keep global temperature rise “well below” two degrees Celcius, with an aspirational target of limiting the rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting emission reduction targets and the regular review of those goals.

But the Greenpeace executive director, Russel Norman, says targets set by nations will not be binding, which is of concern.

“Commitments that governments actually make to cut emissions, they’re not binding. So obviously that’s extremely problematic. It’s also problematic because even the commitments that government have made so far would result in about three degrees of warming, whereas the text says that it is aiming for one-and-a-half degrees of warming.”

Dr Norman says Pacific nations were also unable to get the big polluters to make binding commitments on finance or getting reparations for the losses they will suffer from sea level rise.

He says the agreement could mean the Pacific is still on track to seeing a number of vulnerable countries go under water.

“It will, I think, require enormous effort by people in civil society all around the world to put pressure on their governments and on businesses to dramatically decarbonise if we are going to avoid a pretty catastrophic future for some Pacific nations that are low-lying.”

The WWF Pacific conservation director, Sally Bailey, says the challenge is now ensuring the agreement comes into action as soon as possible.

She says the public must hold governments to account, and push for financing for adaptation and loss and damage, which she says will be vital for the Pacific’s survival.

“This is almost like the start of the process. We need to put a lot more effort in to secure a pathway that limits warming to 1.5 degrees.

“So we see it very much that we now have to be effective at lobbying, advocacy work, going back to those governments that have made commitments, to make sure that they happen.”

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme says COP 21 is a significant improvement on other climate change agreements.

Its director general, David Sheppard, says overall, the agreement is good news for the region.

“We would have preferred 1.5 degrees. I think that this agreement we can live with. And the other elements particularly the peaking of gas emissions as quickly as possible to achieve the balance between the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, clauses on finance and inclusion of reference to loss and damage I think are positive elements as well.”

To cap global temperature rise at two degrees, carbon dioxide emissions would have to drop to zero by 2075. - RNZI

PNG governor sings O’Neil’s praises

MOUNT HAGEN – The future of Papua New Guinea is bright and totally optimistic, former Prime Minister Paias Wingti says.

Wingti says the current heavy investment in infrastructure development was putting the country on track despite the doom and gloom that others wished for PNG.

Wingti, who is the Governor for Western Highlands, said this following the opening of the Kagamuga International Airport in his province.

He said only four years ago there was no evidence of any major shift in priorities to infrastructure development like it is today and commended the O’Neill Government for its foresight and commitment.

He said these were signals that Papua New Guineans needed to take note of and understand that it was not easy to achieve such development.

In commending O’Neill and the government for changing the face of PNG, Wingti said good leadership was tough because people only looked at the bad side and did not appreciate efforts that were painfully undertaken every day to improve the lives of the people.

He called on Papua New Guineans to understand the hardships of running a country and the challenges that came with leadership.

“Papua New Guineans should take a minute to look back at the development that has been happening in the country over the last four years and comment when they should,” he said.

He said Papua New Guineans always wanted the easy way out and spoke negatively about O’Neill as their elected leader.

“They should reflect and dwell on the positive instead of habitually criticising his leadership,” he said.

“This must change the mindset of Papua New Guineans now. We are seeing many major changes in Lae, we are seeing major changes in major parts of the country

“We are definitely seeing major changes in Mount Hagen,” Wingti said.

“Sometimes they point out the bad things about the government and the leader, they do not point out the good things that he does like the previous term of government of Sir Julius Chan and myself.

“They want easier ways out. With all the resources that you have now, Prime Minister you have really made a big change to this region, this is a major airport for the region that is also a major airport when you compare the three major ports, Port Moresby, Lae and now Mount Hagen.

“Mount Hagen is the second busiest airport to Port Moresby and today your government has made the right decision and I am just humbled and so proud that’s why I had to ask you to open this airport which is an important airport in the history of the Highlands region and the country.

“Thank you very much prime minister. I think we are in the beginning, and the beginning will not end I must say that the journey for Papua New Guinea is so bright,” he said.

- Post-Courier