Delivered by The Minister for Revenue and Customs- Hon. Tevita Lavemaau
Heads of Governments, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
- It is an honor to address you all- with greetings from the Prime Minister – Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva and the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga as I convey his sincere apologies for not being able to present at this very important forum.
- The Government and the people of the Kingdom of Tonga wishes to convey our most sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of New Caledonia for the hospitality extended and the opportunity to present at this high level forum.
- The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga express our deepest condolences to the Government and the people of the Republic of Fiji for the tragic loss and damage caused by Category 5 Cyclone Winston earlier this year. Climate Projection has confirmed that there will be more severe cyclone to visit our shores in the coming future.
- The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga is the third most vulnerable in the world to the impacts of climate change, which goes to threaten our territorial integrity, water,health, infrastructure, food security and the livelihoods and ecosystem of our people.
Processes underway between COP 21 and COP 22
- The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga wishes to acknowledge the importance of the collaborative multilateral and international commitments resulting in the legally binding Paris Agreement.
- We are committed to signing the entry into force of the Legally Binding Paris Agreement in New York this month that will ensure our survival and promises a truly shared and sustainable global vision and investment for both Tonga’s present and future generations.
- Tonga’s negotiation position on Climate Change in the past has been at regional level, and the new global agreement in Paris has complemented our membership at the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) and the Group of 77 & China (G-77), to a whole new level of international recognition and assistance.
- We reiterate our commitment to a target of an average temperature well below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
- We pay particular attention to the issue of the mechanism of Loss and Damage, where we value this as an opportunity to strengthens dialogues; promote coordination between relevant stakeholders; promote the enhancement of action and support, including technology, capacity building and finance to address loss and damage and promote sustainable development.
- We wish to reiterate on the operationalisation of the mechanism of loss and damage at COP 22 in Marrakesh as a stand alone mechanism to strengthen our resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, including extreme weather and slow onset events.
- We affirm our commitment to implement our action plans outlined in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and our target to deliver 70% access to renewable energy by 2030.
- We commit to the implementation of the Tonga Climate Change Policy which was approved by Cabinet in February 2016 and its goal to build ‘A resilient Tonga by 2035’. The Tonga Climate Change Policy 2016 is intended to provide an overarching context and guiding framework with policy objectives that for the most part will require multi-sector coordination and cooperation.
- We commit to the formulation of the Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management 2016-2026 by 2016 to build on the ongoing work of the Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management 2010-2015.
- We also reaffirm our support to strengthen the Climate Risk and Early Warming Systems initiative, and dedicate great efforts to significantly increase the capacity of early warning systems to provide accurate predictions of climate events.
Climate Change Financing
- We draw particular attention to the constraints and specific needs of our country to implement national climate change plans and call for rapid where possible, direct access to funding in particular the Adaptation Fund, the Green Climate Fund and other possible sources of multilateral funds. We give special prominence that funds for adaptation should be grant-based, and where possible, it can also apply to proposals on climate change mitigation.
- We reaffirm our commitment to strengthen existing information and climate change database and document relevant traditional knowledge on climate change mitigation and adaptation through providing trainings and integrating traditional know-how into the climate change action plans and relevant sector plans.
- We emphasize on the importance of cooperation and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the SAMOA Pathway and we commit to implementing the frameworks for the successful delivery of sustainable development targets.
- We acknowledge the substantial efforts from the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) agencies, the Pacific Island Development Forum and other sub-regional agencies in assisting and supporting the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga to achieve our goals under the Tonga Strategic Development Frameworks 2015-2025 as well at to achieve the SDGs.
- The seriousness of the impacts of climate change cannot be underestimated. Our Pacific Islands have already seen people displaced, and people die because of climate change. Climate Change is a very personal and close to home global issue. We are the very victims of its consequences. In Tonga, the devastation resulted from Tropical Cyclone Ian and a visit from Cyclone Winston, which will take years to rebuild and restore normality into our affected areas.
- Tonga cannot afford to sit and wait for the sea level rise to continue, for more severe droughts and floods, and for more damaging cyclones, while emissions of fossil fuels continue unabated. A bold vision is required which must be translated into action that is supported by the international community.
- We look forward to an extraordinary year with great promise and potential in our collative fight against climate change.
- I wish to reiterate the purpose of this platform, that we take advantage of its importance, as we have successfully taken the road “From Paris to Marrakesh, Oceania must lead the way”
I thank you Chair.