World's smallest Pacific island nation taking bold action at COP26 stage
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Nieu, one of the world’s smallest nations, is taking giant steps to address climate change by aiming at providing 80 percent solar energy by 2025, the
Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) said.
Reporting from Glasgow, SPREP noted Niue's bold commitments in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) despite its almost-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Niue’s solar energy currently provides 38 percent of its national power grid.
An island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 1,500 mi northeast of New Zealand. Niue's land area is about 101 sq mi. It has a population of 1,620, predominantly Polynesian. Niue is located in a triangle between Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands.
According to SPREP, Nieu has made a large contribution to the Ocean Climate Nexus, having designated 40 percent, that’s 127,000sq km of its sovereign waters as a Marine Protected Area. The global ask is 30 percent.
“What we need is a bolder commitment to reducing emissions by the world’s largest polluters. Fossil fuel subsidies must be phased out and redirected to adaptation and mitigation efforts,” said Dean Rex, Niue’s special envoy at COP26. “Niue calls upon the G20 nations and big business for greater commitments in their NDCs to meet the necessary ambition and to keep 1.5 alive.”
Nieu asked COP26 to support pathways that work for developing countries and invest in sustainable finance mechanisms that take Niue’s absorptive capacity into consideration.
“We need a clear path forward to operationalize the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). A path that is sufficiently flexible to reflect the unique contexts of individual Least Developed Countries and Small Islands Developing States, a path that supports locally appropriate implementation and does not increase the reporting burden,” Rex said. “This clear roadmap for the GGA needs to be set as an outcome for COP26.”
SPREP noted that in recent years, Niue has experienced an increase in both frequency and severity of tropical cyclones suffering huge economic and non-economic losses.
To mitigate these threats, vulnerable infrastructure has had to be moved and relocated at a great cost. Niue has called upon loss and damage to be addressed using not just insurance facilities, with exorbitant premiums the island cannot afford, but other creative financial instruments.
“As a global family we should have made much more progress by now so that no country should have to come to another COP and say that line again,” Rex said.
“For decades we have heard promises of ambition and yet time after time there is no action, only targets and failed promises. We must achieve success here, not just for us but for our children and their children.”
Tonga, for its part, vowed to achieve an ambitious zero-emission target under its Second Nationally Determined Contribution and Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategies.
Fanetupouvava'u Tu'ivakano, Tonga's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, told COP26 that securing the net-zero emission target by 2050 is a critical imperative in order to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.
“Anything beyond the 1.5C threshold would spell absolute catastrophe for Tonga, [the] Pacific, the Small Island States and the world at large,” Tu'ivakano said.
The Polynesian country, officially known as Kingdom of Tonga, comprises 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The archipelago's total surface area is about 290 sq mi scattered over 270,000 sq mi of the southern Pacific Ocean. Tonga has a population of 104,494.
"Survival of our children and future generations of our small and most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change impacts critically depends on decisions made here in Glasgow at COP26," Tu'ivakano said.
Over 120 countries are represented at COP26 running from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy. (SPREP/Matangi Tonga/PacNews)