My island, Kiribati, is one of the vulnerable low lying atoll islands from effects of climate change. Climate change have turned our well waters salty, destroyed our coastal beaches and vegetation, caused our corals to bleach, triggered the worst and destructive king tide and many others that our fellow families such as Tuvalu, Tokelau, The Marshall Islands and all smaller island nations also experienced.
Our economy might not be enough to save our more than 20 islands from effects of climate change and we might not have the resources like advance technologies but we do our very best to mitigate these climate change effects. We planted mangroves along the coast, build sea walls to strengthen our eroded and fragile coasts, sought grants for water tanks so that people will access to clean water rather than drinking brackish water and we even developed Disaster Risk Management for some climate change related disasters that could affect the people.
However, there are other impacts of climate change that with all our might and capabilities, we cannot prevent but need a negotiation for solution at the high level. These impacts include global warming and sea level rise which affected our environment and livelihood. Negotiations at the high level to reduce global temperature to 1.5°C at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting is our only hope. If the UNFCCC fails to work towards carbon emission reduction in order for global temperature to decrease, we will suffer.
The ultimate ambition of UNFCCC which is to “stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere” (Cameron, 2012) is what I have hope in as a young generation for the future. I believe impacts of Climate Change such as global warming and sea level rise together with indirect impacts will then be alleviated if the UNFCCC parties agreed to settle on a 1.5°C global temperature. UNFCCC is like a father to me, the one to fight for me against bullies, untrustworthy, selfless people and make sure I am well secured against their harms. Aren’t you be so proud to have your parents who will die protecting you? UNFCCC’s target to lower carbon emission into the atmosphere will undeniably save low lying islands from effects of climate change.
However, with 197 parties of the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2014) there are fossil fuel industry representatives who are also part of the UNFCCC negotiation. In fact, the fossil fuel industries are “……responsible for 85% of the anthropogenic CO2 emission produced annually” (IPCC, 2007), the more fossil fuel they extract the more money they will earn and the more carbon they will emit into the atmosphere.
My question is: What could be their position during the negotiation of reducing carbon emission? If they join UNFCCC for Carbon pricing then I will ask again; is UNFCCC created to sell nature to be polluted for a cheap price?
One proverb says “only when the last river has been polluted, and the last tree been cut down and the last fish been caught, will we realise we cannot eat money.” The fossil fuel industry to be seated at UNFCCC round-table is totally awkward due to their conflict in their interests. Additionally, during the COP19 meeting in 2013, the fossil fuel industry dominated the discussion which caused “…a massive walk-out of 800 delegates…” (Kings, 2013) from different Non-Governmental Organisations which included the Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature, Oxfam, 30.org, Friends of the Earth and the Confederation and ActionAid (The Guardian, 2013). This dissolution will continue due to the presence of the fossil fuel industry in the meeting. What could be the outcome of the COP meetings if it always ends up like this?
To the UNFCCC who I look up to, are you considering my safety from all these chiefs of carbon emission? I strongly believe that when the fossil fuel industry is banned from the UNFCCC, the negotiations will have no interferences and will have better resolutions that target carbon emission reduction. If banning fossil fuel industries from the UNFCCC meetings would be difficuly, then hats off to World Health Organization Framework (WHO) Convention on Tobacco Control for being the first UN body to ban Tobacco industry from your negotiation.
The WHO Article 5.3 clearly exemplifies that every government has the right to formulate Tobacco Control policy without the Tobacco Industry interference and this could help limit interaction between the tobacco industry and government representatives (Halabi, 2014). The WHO shows true commitment to the health of the people. They do not allow any more Tobacco industries to intrude in policy and decision makings carried out by the World Health Organisations at the international and national level. The ban also involved restrictions to the Tobacco industry plus laws to abide with and this includes promoting, sponsoring and advertising their product whereby they are required to include health messages. Penalties are also fixed if they do not comply with the proposed ban (WHO, 2016).
From the strong commitment of the WHO to improve the health of the people, I hope the UNFCCC will take it as a lesson and ban fossil fuel industries so there will be no more intruders to undermine the target to reduce carbon emission. To save the planet from carbon emission is to save the people and the future and because fossil fuel industry is more into carbon pricing which is like a license to pollute the atmosphere, I urge my Kiribati government and other members to support me that I want fossil fuel industry to be banned from the UN climate negotiation.
Originally published at Climate Voice