Europe

Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama slams climate deniers

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Fiji's Prime Minister has criticised countries that have chosen to block a UN climate report acknowledging the impact of 1.5 degrees global warming, comparing their logic to 'flat Earth' conspiracy theories.

United Nations climate talks are due to come to a close on Friday, but may run into overtime with the 195 nations unable to reach an agreement on some of the summit's thorniest issues. 

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has presided over the talks since November 2017.

He handed over the baton to Poland this month in the Polish city of Katowice, where negotiators are struggling to bring the landmark Paris climate treaty to life.

The United States, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have controversially refused to endorse a landmark UN report outlining the impacts of climate change what it means to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Prime Minister Bainimarama said denying climate science the way those nations have done, is on par with 'flat Earth' conspiracies. 

"The science on climate change is settled, to say otherwise is tantamount to arguing that the Earth is flat," he told AFP.

"Those who ignore the report and don't accept the science are being craven, irresponsible and selfish."

Michal Kurtyka, COP24 President and Secretary of State in the Ministry of Environment and COP23 President and Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama.
LightRocket

In 2016 Fiji was struck by the strongest tropical cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere.

With 300 km an hour winds, it killed 44 people and left thousands homeless.

Prime Minister Bainimarama said he was very disappointed, angry and frustrated that other nations aren't taking action to reduce the effects of climate change.  

"We live in constant fear of these storms, which could wipe out our nation altogether," he said. 

"When I come face-to-face with my people after these disasters, I don't know what to tell them about the world's lack of action on climate change."

"I see the fear in their eyes, and the sense of hurt they feel that they are suffering from something they had no part at all in causing."

UN climate talks in Poland.
Getty

Negotiators at the UN climate talks in Poland are working to reach an agreement on the guidelines countries can use to implement the Paris Agreement in 2020.

While most nations are working towards a common target of reducing the global impact of climate change, there is a clear divide between countries who benefit from fossil fuels and those who will face the brunt of predicated environmental changes.

Mr Bainimarama said he would continue to push for action if the negotiations aren't successful. 

"We can't threaten anyone or force them to bow to our will, but along with other climate vulnerable nations, we certainly have moral authority in the climate debate and we intend to exercise that authority at every turn."

When asked what he would say to US President Donald Trump in a face-to-face encounter, the Fijian Prime Minister said he would remind the President that they are all in this together. 

"We are all in the same canoe. So please accept the science and the evidence all around you and join us," he said.

"America has always been a force for good in the world and - with your help - we can win this one. This is not a threat but an opportunity. The days of dirty energy are numbered."

"One day, I'm hoping President Trump will be able to see that."

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