Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who will host this year’s climate change talks in Bonn, has asked Australia prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to urge US president Donald Trump to stay within the Paris climate treaty.
In his first address as president of COP23, Bainimarama told the Carbon Markets Institute conference in Melbourne on Tuesday that he had written a letter to Trump, who has dismissed climate science as a Chinese hoax, urging the US to stay within the Paris agreement.
Bainimarama met with Turnbull at the PM’s home in Sydney on Sunday and said he had asked Turnbull to convey the message to Trump when he meets with him next week.
“My message to Donald Trump, and the message that I hope Malcolm Turnbull will also convey is ‘Mr President, do not abandon the Paris agreement, please stay the course’.”
Bainimarama said it was clear from the latest climate science that the world is running out of time, and it may already be too late to avoid many of the impacts.
“Climate change is not a hoax, it is frighteningly real,” he said. “Billions of people are losing the ability to feed themselves … We need to limit the damage … failure is not an option.”
Trump has signaled previously that the US would quit the Paris climate deal, or withdraw from the UNFCCC, the UN umbrella body on climate change.
He has appointed a climate science denier, Scott Pruitt, to lead the Environment Protection Agency; appointed deniers to numerous other key portfolios; and has sought to roll back all climate change and clean energy initiatives, and remove rules restricting what he calls “clean coal.”
However, a decision on whether to leave the Paris deal, expected last week, has been delayed.
Bainimarama urged the president to “listen to those around him” and remain within the agreement, and used plenty of rugby analogies to illustrate the point.
“Don’t let the whole side down by leaving, just when we have a game plan,” he said.
He said his number one priority at the Bonn conference in November, which will be a crucial step to set the actual rules of the Paris agreement in place, was to build a “grand coalition” of governments, civil society and the private sector to “defend ad uphold” the climate agreement.
“We will run with this, and in the Fijian way, dodge every attempt to tackle us. Let’s put it through for the benefit of all 7.5 billion people on earth, including those in America.
Bainimarama says he has invited Turnbull to visit Fiji for the pre-COP meeting in Nadi in October. “He will be more welcome in Fiji than in Queensland at the present time,” he said in reference to the recent spat between Turnbull and the Queensland premier.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.