Real action must follow Pacific leaders’ declaration of climate emergency

Posted on 18 July 2022

Suva, Fiji – WWF offices in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific welcome the joint statement from Pacific Islands Forum leaders declaring a "climate emergency" and calling for rapid and deep reductions in emissions to limit global warming.
Suva, Fiji – WWF offices in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific welcome the joint statement from Pacific Islands Forum leaders declaring a "climate emergency" and calling for rapid and deep reductions in emissions to limit global warming.

The final communique - endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders, including Australia and New Zealand - was recently released following the conclusion of the summit in Suva, Fiji.

WWF-Pacific Director Mark Drew said the declaration was a major step forward in recognising the real threat climate change poses to the people, environment and oceans of the Pacific region.

“Pacific Island countries are on the frontline of this climate emergency and they are also taking a leadership role in delivering climate action, as today’s declaration shows,” said Mr Drew.

“What the Pacific needs now is for developed nations and especially those that are primary emitters to step up and deliver on their global commitments and be part of the solution to addressing this climate crisis and that includes helping reduce their emissions with commitment and perseverance.”

WWF-Australia’s Acting CEO Rachel Lowry said Pacific governments, particularly Australia, must back up the declaration with real action to drive down emissions this decade.

“It’s awful that it’s come to this, but hearing our Prime Minister acknowledge the opportunity for Australia to become a renewable energy superpower gives me hope,” said Ms Lowry.

“The notion of a renewable superpower is not just a tagline. It's a genuine opportunity that would transition Australia from laggards to global leaders on climate action. It will create jobs, make long term economic sense and provide wins for both people and nature. It was heartening to see the need for an urgent pathway to a renewable energy sector recognised in today's statement."

WWF-New Zealand's CEO Livia Esterhazy said New Zealand also needed to respond to the declaration with urgency and ambition.

“The Pacific is already dealing with the effects of climate change, from extreme weather events to the changes within our ocean. Declaring an emergency is only as good as the action that follows. New Zealand needs greater investment in renewables, sustaining farming, our blue economy and nature based solutions to help business drive down emission towards zero this decade," said Ms Esterhazy.

"Prime Minister Jacinda Arden called climate change 'the challenge that defines my generation'. We now need to act like it."

WWF offices urged Pacific leaders to take significant steps, informed by the best available science, to combat the threat of climate change, including:
  • Transforming their economies to clean and renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.
  • Meeting and exceeding climate finance targets and scaling up investment in climate adaptation efforts, with a particular focus on restoration, protection of critical ecosystems and expanding protected area targets.
  • Supporting Indigenous and local communities to deliver climate action and nature-based solutions across the Pacific.
Children of Kavewa Island. Macuata start a mangrove planting activity with freshly picked mangrove propagules.
© © Juergen Freund / WWF-Pacific.
Gleaning and looking for bivalves at low tide as the sun sets along the coast of Kavewa Island, Macuata.
© © Juergen Freund / WWF-Pacific.