23rd Conference of Parties United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Statement by Hon. Yosiwo P George Vice President
Bonn, Germany, 16 November 2017
Your Excellencies, Check against delivery Honorable J.V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, President of the COP 23, Executive Secretary Espinosa, Distinguished representatives of governments, Representatives of international and regional organizations, and observers, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Greetings to you all.
Two years ago, we met in Paris to renew our commitment to addressing the threat of climate change as a global community. The last two years, while our negotiators have worked diligently to chart the Paris Agreement’s path forward, the number of devastating climate-related events around the world have increased.
Two years ago, Typhoon Maysak tore through the islands of Micronesia causing fatalities, damaging homes, crops, and public infrastructure, and causing millions of dollars in damage. Nearly 30,000 people, or almost one third of FSM’s population, were affected, and rebuilding efforts are still ongoing. As typical of recent extreme weather events world-wide, this typhoon went on record as the most powerful pre-April tropical cyclone in the North-western Pacific Ocean.
Every year we witness record-breaking storms worldwide, floods, droughts, and other climaterelated events.
We small islands developing states find ourselves in the unjust situation of the proverbial canary in the coal mine. With no exaggeration, we are at risk of losing our lands and disappearing from the face of the earth.
The tragedy is not only the precariousness of our survival, but that some nations, industries, and other powerful actors are failing to do their part, and in some cases are even moving backwards.
The increasing gravity of the situation requires our strength and resolve. We must be visionaries. We must be brave. And we must sometimes make decisions that will not please all interests, but will protect all people. That is leadership. That is responsibility.
How many canaries will perish before we close down the coal mine? How many will perish before the many ambitions of this forum become actions? What will it take for climate investments to surpass fossil fuel subsidies and support?