On the eve of the 42nd Anniversary of Tuvalu Independence, the country’s Opposition Group has issued a scathing attack against foreign interests determining Tuvalu and the Pacific region’s agenda.
An example cited by the Opposition leader and former Tuvalu Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga was the current government’s decision to endorse the Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF) – which he claims ignores the island nation’s long standing initiatives to protect and save them from climate change.
“In our views, the current government has taken Tuvalu backwards by supporting this PRF initiative which has been thrust upon us by outside interests. The people of Tuvalu are sick and tired of being manipulated by others.”
“The fact that the Prime Minister has endorsed the Pacific Resilience Facility shows that outside interests are even influencing our own national statements and national identity, while compromising our national security and survival, said Sopoaga, who was one of Tuvalu’s most vocal leader at the regional and international fora during his Prime Ministership from 2013-2019.
The Opposition leader said the Pacific Resilience Facility is built on the premise of accessing finance within our region for preparedness to disasters from natural hazard risks and to assist in climate change adaptation. He claimed there are two key faults within this premise.
“First it blurs the boundary between so-called natural hazards and climate change. This blurring of the boundaries is keenly supported by some of our bigger neighbours, spiced with “step-up” funding offers for PICs which have not been delivered. They manipulated the language of the Forum Communique to say it was only the Pacific Island countries that believed in the threats of climate change.
Sopoaga said the Pacific Resilience Facility continues this denial of climate change by suggesting that most of the impacts we are suffering from weather related disasters are “natural”.
“This is shameful and clearly shows our regional premier body, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) has been allowed to be dominated by the whims of the Australian government. We will never represent our true concerns while this dominance continues, said Sopoaga.
The second major fault in the premise of the Pacific Resilience Facility is that it places on Pacific Island Countries the onus of protecting themselves from the impacts of climate change and so-called natural disasters.
“This means we have to build our own resilience to the impacts of climate change. It completely ignores the polluter pays principle.”
“We, in the Pacific have minimal greenhouse gas emissions and therefore contribute very little to climate change. Yet, we bear the greatest costs from the impacts of climate change. This is totally unfair and is a denial of our human rights to a safe and secure future.
“We must insist on the polluter pays principle and ensure that those that have created the greatest greenhouse gas pollution pay for the damage it is causing to our lives. This is fair, right and just. The Pacific Resilience Facility denies us of this right. It places all the onus on us to be the victim and the cost bearer. This is totally wrong, said the former PM.
“It is for this very reason that under my government, Tuvalu proposed the development of a Pacific Island Climate Change Insurance Facility so that it could overcome the flaws in the Pacific Resilience Facility.
Sopoaga said firstly, it would accept that most disasters in our region are climate change related, and secondly it would require that the polluters contribute to this Insurance Facility.
“Our efforts to establish this Insurance Facility have been constantly undermined by those who deny climate change and do not accept the polluter pays principle. The Pacific Resilience Facility, is reflective of this effort, anti-Paris Agreement and is a poorly formulated smoke screen for the climate change deniers. It is shameful.
Sopoaga said Prime Minister Kausea Natano’s statement to the United Nations General Assembly last week has effectively given away Tuvalu’s human rights to outside interests and by doing so he has caved in to the climate change deniers.
“Tuvalu stands here today as a rudderless ship being pulled around by the currents of climate change denial. We cannot accept this. The people of Tuvalu cannot accept this. Too much is at stake to let our country, our people, be manipulated and led to sink, said Sopoaga.
Tuvalu will celebrate its 42nd independence anniversary tomorrow, Wednesday 01 October 2020.