Updated: Nov 7, 2021
Island leaders employ legends and metaphors to stress the impact of climate change on the sinking region
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. opened his remarks at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow with the Palauan legend of Uab, a giant boy who wouldn’t stop growing due to his insatiable appetite, depleting all the natural resources before threatening to eat the villagers.
Banding together, the villagers took bold action and set Uab on fire, hence saving the village.
Whipps used the Palauan legend as a metaphor for the global climate change crisis, drumming up his nation’s call for world leaders to take action and hit the path to 1.5 “to stay alive.”
“As large emitters with their insatiable appetite for advancement are continuing to abuse our environment, threatening our very survival. COP26 must light the fire,” Whipps said.
World leaders gather in Scotland for the COP26, which opened on Oct. 31 and will end on Nov. 12, to accelerate action toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Whipps reminded world leaders that the Pacific islands are most vulnerable to the threats of climate change.
“We see the scorching sun is giving us intolerable heat, the warming sea is invading us, the strong winds are blowing us every which way, our resources are disappearing before our eyes and our future is being robbed from us,” he said.
“Frankly speaking, there is no dignity to a slow and painful death you might as well bomb our islands instead of making us suffer only to witness our slow and fateful demise.”
Whipps demanded world leaders to raise their yet-to-be fulfilled $100 billion annual commitment to $4 trillion, the amount suggested by the World Bank to support climate adaptation needs.
Climate activist Brianna Fruean sounded the warrior call of Pacific youth, declaring that “We are not drowning, we are fighting.”
“Remember that in your meeting rooms and drafting documents are more than just black and white objects’ to remember than in your words you wield the weapons that can save us or sell us out,” Fruean told COP26 participants.
“I hope the world leaders will remember the words and faces of Pacific youth this COP. We have the most to lose but also the most to teach about how to treat the planet with more respect”.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the message of the Pacific was simple: “Our canoe is sinking. ‘Pick up your buckets and start bailing now before it’s too late.’”
He said island nations “have teaspoons with which to bail water,” while the G20 nations “have buckets.”
“Yet too many are willfully ignoring the storms on the horizon and the holes in our canoe,” Bainimarama said.
He urged rich nations to cut emissions now “to set our canoe toward the calm of carbon-neutral seas and they need to start bailing – now – by meeting their climate finance pledges before our canoe sinks to the seabed.”