Tonga will vanish if no action on climate change, Ma’u warns COP23 talks

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Paula Pouvalu Ma'u. Photo/Supplied

Tonga will disappear unless action is taken on climate change.

That was the dramatic message to the COP23 talks in Bonn by the head of Tonga’s delegation, Paula Pouvalu Ma’u.

Ma’u, who is Chief Executive Officer for Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, and Communications, said any global temperature change had to be kept to 1.5C.

He said if countries did not work together, the kingdom would continue to suffer from unprecedented rates of coastal erosion, flash flooding and tropical cyclones.

The effects of climate change would undermine Tonga’s national sovereignty, autonomy and security.

“In the long term this will see our demises a small island nation-state and ultimately result in our disappearance as a people and culture,” Ma’u told delegates.

He said climate change was a core security issue for Tonga.

The future of Tonga and other small island developing states hinged on their ability to be able to withstand the effects of climate change and adapt to changing circumstances.

He said Tonga was committed to increasing the amount of renewable energy available to 70% of the country’s needs by 2030 and to double the number of Marine Protected Areas by the same date.

He called on United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a Special Representative on Climate Change and Security and to have Climate Change and Security as a permanent agenda item for the UN Security Council.

Guterres has described climate change as “the defining threat of our time.”

He said floods, fires, extreme storms and drought were growing in intensity and frequency and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were higher than they had been for 800,000 years.

“The voice of small island states that are on the front lines of climate change must be voice of us all,” the Secretary-General said.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who headed the COP23 talks, called on governments to work quickly to deal with climate change.

The main points

  • Tonga will disappear unless action is taken on climate change.
  • That was the dramatic message to the COP23 talks in Bonn by the head of Tonga’s delegation, Paula Pouvalu Ma’u.
  • Ma’u said if countries did not work together the kingdom would continue to suffer from unprecedented rates of coastal erosion, flash flooding and tropical cyclones.
  • “In the long term this will see our demises a small island nation-state and ultimately result in our disappearance as a people and culture,” Ma’u told delegates.

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