PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On July 8 , 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the
Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), attended the UK-Pacific High-Level Climate Dialogue with leaders such as the Honorable Alok Sharma, President of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (CoP26), His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, and the Honorable Josaia Voreqe Bainirama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, et al.
During the President’s formal statement, he called for the global community to reduce short-lived Climate Super Pollutants such as methane, black carbon soot, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The statement, as delivered, can be found in full below.
During the President’s interventions, he emphasized again the urgent need for the global community to address short-lived Climate Super Pollutants. Additionally, President Panuelo indicated that the CoP26 must adopt the Paris Rulebook, so as to find a solution on carbon markets, resolve the issues of transparency, and broker an agreement that drives ambition from Governments over the coming years to keep the 1.5 degree threshold alive.
“We need to democratize Climate financing,” President Panuelo said. “Accessing Climate financing is like pulling teeth. Why is it so difficult to access these funds? We can’t solve Climate Change if the people and countries most affected by it are unheard and disregarded because we lack Doctorate degrees, fancy titles, and pocketbooks deep enough to lobby for our interests. Our islands are being overtaken by the ocean while California and Wyoming are becoming forever-deserts—scientists have even added new colors to their maps to show how little water there is there now—and British Columbia has the hottest temperatures on the Planet. The existential threat isn’t just real, it’s happening today and everywhere in the World.”
Statement by His Excellency David W. Panuelo
On the Occasion of the UK-Pacific High-Level Climate Dialogue
I would like to thank Prime Minister Bainimarama of Fiji for his statement, and I’d like to thank the UK CoP26 Presidency for their invitation to participate in this important dialogue. I’ll begin with a quote from His Royal Highness Prince Charles’ speech at the historic Paris CoP21. I quote “In
damaging our Climate, we become the architects of our own destruction,” unquote. Hence by the same token, “we can be the architects or our own survival.”
The next ten years will be a race against the rising tide of Climate Change. Strategies to flatten the curve in emission growth by 2050 will not save island nations like the FSM – nor will they save lives of many people in larger, more resilient countries where wildfires, heat waves, floods, and storms increasingly and presently harm communities, devastate lives, and cripple economies.
Current commitments and plans are commendable, but I submit that they are deeply insufficient.
They are failing because although they may reduce emissions in the medium and long-term, they do not reduce the current, rapid rate of global warming that is melting the Arctic poles and provoke destructive tipping points, cascades, and feedback loops that we may never recover from. Certainly, Micronesia will not.
Fortunately, there are viable solutions to reduce warming in the near term that can help us speed ahead of the worst advances of Climate Change and buy time to transform the global economy. We must reduce short-lived climate super pollutants quickly and at massive scale.
Solutions readily exist to cut the “super pollutant” emissions of methane, black carbon soot, tropospheric ozone, and also hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the gases used in the expanding refrigeration and air conditioning sectors that are now controlled under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol – a global agreement that Micronesia is proud to have helped inspire. We urge countries to ratify the Kigali Amendment. Full implementation of this agreement, paired with energy efficiency measures, could avoid up to 1 degree of warming – an extraordinary amount. Joining forces to drastically cut methane emissions through a new treaty would also halt temperature rise.
Fast action on all the short-lived Climate pollutants, sometimes referred to as Climate “super pollutants,” will not only reduce warming and allow time for longer-term Climate measures to take effect, but it will also save countless lives and money by improving respiratory health, protecting food production, and ensuring equitable access to cooling worldwide.
What is lacking? I submit that it is political courage. It is the lack of political courage, financing, and strategic action to reduce these emissions as a global priority while we also advance with haste on solutions for mid-term emission reduction goals, carbon dioxide removal, and support for adaptation.
Micronesia recognizes that every country here is increasing its Climate action, and we are grateful for this opportunity to express our priorities and we seek support to help developing countries adapt to climate impacts.
1.5 degrees Celsius is not only a life-saving limit for small islands and poor nations. It is the temperature threshold that could ignite a fuse, setting off an unstoppable series of events that will impact us all.
The race is on. A safer future awaits us if we start reducing the short-lived super pollutants quickly and at massive scale. Together we can win this race.
Thank you for your attention and for the opportunity to say these few words on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia.