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PM Brown calls for fairer response to climate change

Wednesday 17 May 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Environment, Features, National


PM Brown calls for fairer  response to climate change
Prime Minister Mark Brown. Photo: AP/23051602

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has again called on larger nations to help smaller nations in dealing with climate change issues.

At the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) forum in Bangkok, Brown spoke in his capacity as chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“The Blue Pacific has been grappling with catastrophic human-induced climate events for far too long, so as we seek to make an assessment today, the first step should always be to take a long, hard look at the state of wellbeing of our most vulnerable,” Brown told the audience.

Brown said that despite his country having one of the smallest carbon footprints, “inconsequential in fact”, they were among the first to suffer catastrophic impacts of climate change due to our severe vulnerabilities.

“In this regard, the theme study of the Commission is central to our considerations,” Brown said.

He said in 2015, the world agreed on a plan to ensure the survival of our planet and its people through the Paris Agreement.

“For the Blue Pacific, Paris represented a monumental leap forward in our fight for climate justice. But, regretfully, the follow-through has been slow and disappointing,” Brown said.

“The path to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees is escaping our hold. The need to build resilience into our strategies and responsive structures is beyond critical, so I ask the group – How do we respond together today to keep this goal alive?”

Brown raised concern about the system for climate change adaptation being based on borrowing from larger nations.

“We are drowning in more ways than one – to borrow the words of the Honourable Prime Minister from Barbados, ‘poor countries are paying the price of wealthier nations’,” he said.

“We didn’t cause the problem, but now they’re going to make money off of us by giving us a loan so we can pay back with interest,” Brown later told The Associated Press.

“So now you have to adapt, but we’ll give you money and make money off of you by giving you that money to adapt. That doesn’t make sense.”

Brown called on larger nations to find fairer ways to address climate change financing issues.

“We must achieve a major breakthrough in Climate Finance,” Brown said.

“We must see transformation in our Multilateral Development Funds and Institutions. We must address the overwhelming financing gap that continues to erode the legitimacy of the Paris Agreement. The People of the Pacific cannot afford to wait for change any longer.”

Brown noted as the Cook Islands prepares to host the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in November, “our region, in close partnership with organisations like UNESCAP, prepares to finalise a clear, comprehensive and coordinated implementation plan that will operationalise the Pacific’s pinnacle strategic plan for sustainable development”.