Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is optimistic US President Donald Trump will not pull out of the landmark Paris climate change deal and change his mind on the issue.
At a press conference with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Patricia Espinosa in Suva yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said as the president of the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) this year, he would see Mr Trump to change his mind.
“Last year, it (Paris Agreement) still had the backing of the US Government, but word has now come up from the new administration that Donald Trump is pulling out of the deal,” he said.
“But we are going to work on that, we have the opportunity to see him and invite him to Fiji and we will do so.”
Mr Bainimarama said Mr Trump needed to come to Fiji to see for himself what small island nations were going through with regards to climate change and perhaps, change his mind on the issue.
“So we have done that before, we have invited him to come to Fiji to have a look at what Fiji is going through and what the small Pacific nations are going through with regards to climate change.”
Ms Espinosa said the Paris Agreement had entered into force and it was now an obligation for other countries to ratify it.
“As of Tuesday there were 127 ratifications, so that means that for us in the secretariat the role is very clear,” she said.
“Our obligation is to foster the implementation of the commitments taken under the Paris Agreement.”
She said the secretariat was willing to engage in dialogue and constructive co-operation with countries that had problems with the agreement because it was important for the livelihoods of many people around the world.
Mr Bainimarama said for COP23, Fiji had set up a team to negotiate the deal on the country’s behalf.
“One of the things we need to look at is the differences between the countries, especially the bigger economies and vulnerable ones like ours, that’s one of the issues that we need to deal.”
He said Fiji would fulfil its obligations to every person on the planet by doing everything possible to move climate change negotiations forward during the November meeting in Germany this year. The Paris Agreement received a strong start, with Fiji being the first country in the world to lodge its instruments.
The Pacific nations, under the Suva Declaration, are pressing for a fresh cap of 1.5C.
A former climate change adviser to Mr Trump had said the US president would pull out of the landmark Paris Agreement and an executive order on the issue could come within days.