There’s a tendency to think that because the Pacific islands are the first to experience the effects of climate change, this delay affects only us. The world is clearly ready to sacrifice a few small island states if it means they can run the air con a little longer.
But that’s not how global climate change works. Its effects are felt disproportionately, yes. And to varying degrees [sic] at varying times.
But the point of no return is the same for us all.
That’s why I reject the ‘canary in the coal mine’ analogies, and I refuse to argue that we have to stop this process now to save the Pacific islands.
We do have to stop now to save the Pacific islands. But we also have to stop now to save the Great Barrier Reef. And Australian woodlands. And sub-Saharan Africa. And southern Africa. And Spain and Portugal.
And Madras and Delhi and the Karakoram and Beijing and I’m going to lose my cool if I go on.
So fine. There’s that. We are leaving generational challenges to politicians whose self-interest does not extend beyond their own tenure in office.
That’s still enough to work with.
Well, it’ll have to do.
Pacific island leaders have prepared for this eventuality. It’s not what anyone wanted, but it’s what we’ve got.
In July this year, the Forum leadership agreed to a number of innovative financing proposals that would empower member nations to redirect debt service payments to domestic investment in climate change adaptation. It’s a smart move. It not only provides developing nations with a technical lever to pull in their ongoing talks with the IMF, ADB and World Bank, but it’s a powerful moral lever that can help us to shame even our most shameless development ‘partners’.
Whatever they do on the world stage, they still have to keep us onside. And as we dance between China and Australia, we can hold it out as the ticket they need to punch.
With the backing of some bright minds at the Forum Secretariat, even the smallest nations should be well equipped for the conversation.
We don’t even have to wait for them. The Pacific Resilience Facility is already up and running, helping communities to adapt.