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Time for Climate Action is NOW, says PM

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 11/12/2019

The Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa has urged the world leaders that the time for climate action is now, when he delivered Tonga’s national statement at the high level segment of the 25th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He said, climate change is the single greatest threat to Tonga and the Pacific Island countries, and Tonga stands in solidarity with all other Small Island Developing States in calling for urgent action to combat climate change.

PM said the effects of climate change continue to threaten the environment, land, the ocean and marine resources, upon which the livelihood and existence of the people depend on.

He further emphasized that Tonga experienced unprecedented rates of coastal erosion, inundation, flash flooding, sea-level rise, and intensity of tropical cyclones like Tropical Cyclone Gita that hit Tonga last year where it undermines Tonga’s capacity to respond to and recover from.

He reminded the Conference that these climate change effects, are direct result of global warming, and that the world is currently on a course where they have now reached a 1.1 degree Celsius.

Prime Minster said, the goal can only be achieved through commitment and cooperation from governments, development partners and parties fully engaging in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, Sustainable Development Goals, and the SAMOA Pathway.

The Prime Minister mentioned the Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Kainaki II Declaration and calls for urgent climate action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic global warming, extreme weather events, flooding and droughts, is an example of such commitment and cooperation effort.

Such commitment in Tonga, stressed by the Prime Minister, is ensuring rapid progression at the national level to implement the necessary actions toward achieving its NDC targets of 50% renewable energy by 2020, and 100% by 2035, improve energy efficiency through reduction of electricity line losses to 9 percent by 2020 and to double the 2015 number of Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Tonga is also committed to prepare its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategies.

Among other important issues for Tonga at the COP25, is accessing climate finance to fund the implementation and auctioning of various climate change policies and action plans already in place, to save Tonga from the effects of climate change.

During the Conference, the Prime Minister and his delegation also held bilateral meetings with various donor agencies and development partners to build closer mutual cooperation and partnerships to fight against climate change.

A Press Statement from the Prime Minsiter’s office stated, a result of Tonga’s participation at COP 23, 24 and now 25, are the USD$23.8 million on the Climate Resilient Sector Project (CRSP) that included the construction of the Ha’apai Hospital, the construction of the Hahake Foreshore, reconstruction of 5 and to name a few.

In addition is the US$26.1 million for the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Projects (OIERP) to finance the costs of the solar farms in the outer islands.

The Tonga Renewable Energy project (TREP) of US$53.2 million for solar batteries in Tongatapu, Matafonua, Kolovai, and Faheha. The Nuku’alofa Integrated Development fund of US$20 million.

The Fanga’uta Bridge of US$45 million, and the new proposed Climate Resilient pathway projects with the Green Climate Fund of US$250 million, yet to be determined by the Green Climate Fund.

Tonga’s delegation also included Climate Change or MEIDECC Minister, Hon. Poasi Tei, Chief Secretary & Secretary to Cabinet Edgar Cocker and CEOs from Government Ministries and representative from Non-government organizations.


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