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Leaders must ‘urgently’ act to avoid climate ‘Armageddon’: Vanuatu PM

#Leaders #urgently #act #avoid #climate #Armageddon #Vanuatu

To address the climate crisis, world leaders “need to react and react very quickly — urgently,” warned Vanuatu’s prime minister during an AFP interview in New York.

Ishmael Kalsakau responded to AFP questions on Tuesday, a day before the UN General Assembly was expected to adopt a resolution led by his Pacific archipelago nation calling on the International Court of Justice to issue an opinion on states’ climate-related legal obligations.

– How is Vanuatu after back-to-back cyclones in early March? –

“Where the cyclones impacted the islands, there has been extreme devastation,” Kalsakau said, emphasizing the heightened effects of climate change.

Increasing cyclones are “more powerful and devastating” he added, making it “extremely difficult for a small country like Vanuatu to be able to perform economically and socially.”

“I’ve been to some of the outer islands most affected and you just feel that something must be done to enable us to be able to cope with the sort of weather patterns we’re facing these days and just the hardships that people are facing more and more.”

On the small, fragmented group of islands, “communication, transport, all of that” is already difficult.

Vanuatu, Kalsakau said, is still recovering from Cyclone Pam in 2015 and Cyclone Harold in 2020, and a “lot of the structures haven’t been rebuilt.”  

Now, he said, his country is facing “the brunt” of climate change.

– What message do you have for other leaders? –

“The message to world leaders is: ‘What sort of future are we handing over to our children?'” Kalsakau told AFP.

Global warming is leading the world towards “Armageddon. Leaders need to react and react very quickly, urgently.”

“In 2020, I became the deputy prime minister. Two years later, I’m the prime minister. And on one of the islands, we’ve lost three meters (10 feet) of shoreline… in just two years.”

“If we continue down this track, then there is absolutely no future for our children,” Kalsakau said.

“Forest fires, floods — if you’re a parent, if you’re a leader, you should be feeling the energy to be able to do something, do something right for the future of humankind.”

– What is the importance of the UN resolution? –

“It is extremely important because the International Court of Justice will clarify… rights and duties” related to climate change, he said.

And that, Kalsakau said, will enable even the bigger states to have a better understanding “of the sorts of obligations that each country has to bring to the international community.”

The resolution, he added, depends on the “conscience of leaders to think quite differently about this and not to treat it as any other issue they’ve dealt with in the past.”

– Do you think the resolution is the biggest step since the Paris Accord? –

“Yes, I do,” Kalsakau told AFP, adding that it’s “a step in the right direction.”

The resolution gives power to the Paris Accord’s “initial intentions” and adds “a bit more urgency to the way we must resolve these issues, which we must do very expediently.”

– How does the resolution differ from Palau’s failed campaign last decade? –

The new resolution comes before the United Nations with a majority of countries co-sponsoring it, Kalsakau said.

“That’s the big difference — that more and more countries are paying attention to the climate change question.”

“It’s gained momentum by itself because it is something that will affect the future of this world,” Kalsakau added.

“You remember it started off with students in the Pacific — and now young (people) all around the world are reacting to this.”

It’s time parents “start listening to their children about what sort of future we leave to them.”

“Everybody’s jumping on the bandwagon out of necessity these days, because it is an urgent call for each and every one of us to answer.” 

It is a call to “ensure that we understand what we need to do to make the world a safer place to live in in the future.”

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#Leaders #urgently #act #avoid #climate #Armageddon #Vanuatu

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