“History and our children will judge us” Niue’s message at COP26

Premier Hon. Dalton Tagelagi and Niue’s Special Envoy, Dr. Dean Rex delivered the following speech at COP26.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Delegates,

Fellow Small Islands States and especially Niue’s Pacific family;

A warm Fakaalofa lahi atu to you all.

It is my distinct privilege to convey this message to you all on behalf of my Premier, the Honourable Dalton Tagelagi and the people of Niue.

Niue extends its gratitude to the United Kingdom, to the city of Glasgow and itss welcoming people. To the Right Honourable Aloc Sharma, COP 26 President, we commend you and your team on the enormous effort in hosting this conference and we commit our full support for a successful outcome.

Mr President, nineteen years ago, Niue’s Premier addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development, he said: “History and our children will judge us” and at COP26 my friends the message is the same “History and our children will judge us”, that we are failing.

As a global family, we should have much more progress by now so that no country should have to come to another COP and say that line again.

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.

Mr President, this Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis has seen the world take bold and decisive action. Central Banks mobilised trillions to combat the crisis, Covid-19 vaccines were produced in record time. Let us now apply that bold decisive action to fighting climate change.

In Paris in 2015, we all agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, unfortunately the recent IPCC report shows that we are failing, that we are heading for 2.7 degrees.

The UN Secretary General said the report was a code red for humanity, code red!.

Mr President, COP26 must finalise the Paris Agreement.

In recent years, Niue has experienced an increase in both frequency and severity of tropical cyclones. We have suffered huge economic and non-economic loss. To mitigate for these threats, vulnerable infrastructure has had to be moved and relocate at great cost. Loss and damage must be addressed using not insurance facilities with exorbitant premiums that we cannot afford but other creative financial instruments.

Mr President, Niue’s carbon emissions are almost zero and yet we have made bold commitments in our national determined contributions. Currently solar energy provides 37 percent of our national power grid and our target is 80 percent by 2025.

What we do is tiny in the global scheme. 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 at adaptation and mitigation efforts.

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.

Mr President, many of us have face significant challenges in accessing climate finance for our national adaptation plans. The process needs to be simpler and quicker to ensure climate programmes are not scuttled before they get off the ground. We call on you to support the pathways that work for developing and invest in sustainable finance mechanisms that takes into consideration our absorbative capacity and will build our capability incrementally.

We need a clear path forward to operationalise the global goal on adaptation, a path that is sufficiently flexible to reflect the unique context of individual LDCs and SIDS. A path that supports locally appropriate implementation and does not increase the reporting burden.

This clear roadmap for the GGA needs to be set as an outcome for COP26.

Mr President, Niue shares the Blue Ocean continent, our ocean is a vital heirloom that connects us to our ancestors and a precious legacy we wish to hand to our future generations.

To this end, Niue has made a very large contribution to the ocean climate nexus that we are very proud of. We have designated forty percent of our sovereign waters as a marine protected area. The global ask was thirty percent.

This has mitigation, adaptation and resilience benefits for Niue and we will reflect these in our updated NDCs.

Mr President, COP26 cannot be remembered as just another COP. It must be remembered as the COP that put humanity back on track towards keeping the 1.5 degrees target alive. In the end, you are free to choose, but we are all not free from the consequences of your choices.

Thank you for listening.

Kia Monuina

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