Tonga’s Prime Minister, Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva was among the leaders of the world, who have deposited their country’s legal instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Agreement, to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, during the United Nations (UN) High-Level Event on Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 21 September 2016.
Tonga’s relentless commitment into bringing the Paris Agreement into force in 2016, since signing and ratifying the Agreement earlier in the year, April 22, has demonstrated its tremendous support of this initiative.
Climate change remains one of the most utmost concerns affecting the region, as other Pacific Islands countries including Tonga, are facing an increasingly precarious existence as the frequency and intensity of severe weather events and rising sea levels due to climate change increases.
At national level, Tonga has made a commitment to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel for power generation by 50%, by 2020, and 70% by 2030. The Government has also made a commitment to double Tonga’s marine protected areas by 2030, and increased its efforts in reforestation.
By 21 September 2016, 31 countries had formally signed up to the Paris deal at the UN general assembly in New York, including the world’s seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Mexico, Argentina and Sri Lanka. Oil-rich UAE also ratified the Agreement, as did Pacific Islands nations considered particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, such as Kiribati, Fiji, FSM and Tonga.
This monumental event and display of collective leadership is a testament of the urgency of the global climate challenges that each region experiences and their collective responsibility to reduce global emissions, and capitalize on the momentum to ensure that the pact’s entry into force will limit climate risks and build climate resilience in years to follow.