Trump 'can't escape climate change' impacts says Fiji PM

Fiji’s Prime Minister has issued a coded warning to Donald Trump about the dangers of climate change.

The US leader is due to decide on future US participation in the Paris climate agreement after next week’s G7 meeting in Italy.

But Frank Bainimarama told delegates here that whether you lived in Miami or New York, you wouldn’t be able to escape the rising seas.

Fiji will lead the next key UN climate talks later this year.

This normally low-profile May meeting of UN delegates has been overshadowed to an extent by the ongoing question of future US involvement in the Paris accord.

While not addressing Mr Trump or the US directly, Mr Bainimarama told the negotiators that he would bring his own experience as a Pacific islander to his role as head of the Conference of Parties.

“We who are most vulnerable must be heard, whether we come from the Pacific or other Small Island Developing States, other low-lying nations and states or threatened cities in the developed world like Miami, New York, Venice or Rotterdam,” he told negotiators.

“But together we must speak out for the whole world – every global citizen – because no-one, no matter who they are or where they live, will ultimately escape the impact of climate change.”

Other members of the Fijian team hoped that the US would be able to stay in the climate “family”, but that progress would be made with or without the Americans.

“We shouldn’t give up because one of the family has decided it won’t walk with us,” said Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, speaking at the conclusion of these talks.

“At this point in time the US has not made that decision, and we don’t know what the decision is going to be and we hope very much that they will remain within the Paris agreement… but we will not stop our work even if the result is a negative one.”

The US sent a very small team to this meeting, reflecting the new administration’s cooler approach to the issue.

However, the American delegates were praised for the positive role they played.

“I personally have met with the head of delegation a couple of times, he’s a very experienced diplomat,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

“He is very open in repeating ‘our position is under review’ but he is actively engaged and participating in the discussions and I think that his attitude has been appreciated.”

Certainly, it is hard to escape the sentiment here that the world is willing to move on without the US.

This was echoed in the scheduling of the first climate ministerial meeting between the EU, China and Canada. It is due to happen in Berlin next week. A “major announcement” from the EU on climate change is expected on 2 June.

The EU also announced an extra €800m to help poorer nations between now and 2020. Around half that money will be earmarked for climate action.

“Today more than ever, Europe stands by its long-term partners most vulnerable to climate change,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s climate and energy commissioner.

“We, developed and developing countries together, will defend the Paris agreement. We are all in, and our joint commitment to this Agreement today is as in Paris: irreversible and non-negotiable.”

The EU will also find €3m to support the Fijian presidency of the forthcoming Conference of the Parties in Bonn in November. This will be the first time a small island state has held the role.

Negotiators here say they have made significant progress on a host of technical issues.