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Over 60 Pacific youth activists presented their climate demands to Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna.

Photo/350 Pacific

Pacific Region

Pacific youth activists present Forum with climate demands

The group, who call themselves the Pacific climate warriors, presented their climate demands to Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Henry Puna.

Kelvin Anthony, RNZ Pacific Lead Digital and Social Media Journalist
01 November 2023, 9:27am
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Pacific youth environmental advocates have handed their "demands" for climate action to the head of the region's premier political organisation ahead of the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Meeting in the Cook Islands starting next Monday.

"The Pacific Power Up Declaration calls for an endorsement of the Port Vila Call for a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific by all Pacific Island Forum governments, including Australia and New Zealand," the environmental group 350.org said in a statement.

"It also specifically demands a swift scale-up of community-centred renewable energy, with guardrails in place to protect biodiversity, food and water security and the wellbeing of indigenous peoples."

Over 60 young people from the region were part of the Pacific Power Up meeting.

The group, who call themselves the Pacific climate warriors, presented their climate demands to Forum secretary-general Henry Puna on 25 October in Fiji.

"These demands come on the heels of Australia's approval of four new coal mines, one new gas project, and the additional 25 fossil fuel projects awaiting approval by the federal government, all while the Pacific experiences intensifying climate disasters," the statement said.


"As leaders prepare for both the PIF meeting and COP28 in the UAE, young Pacific islanders want to ensure their futures are safeguarded against the impacts of the climate crisis."

"The young people of the Pacific know that we need to urgently phase out coal, oil and gas if we are to protect our futures and keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive. We also know that our people will still need to be able to power their homes and livelihoods," Okalani Mariner, one of the youth activists said.

Mariner said young people were "understandably frustrated by the lack of climate ambition from countries like Australia in the lead up to PIF and COP28".

"But we are also inspired by the resolve of our young people in ensuring we live to see the end of fossil fuels and the flourishing of community-centred renewable energy."

350.org Pacific managing director said the region needed an "energy revolution".

"We need to rapidly scale up renewable energy that gives energy access to all, particularly vulnerable communities, but also respects land, sea and Pacific community values. And those most responsible for this climate crisis must commit to phasing out fossil fuels and redirecting finance to the just transition, not only for themselves, but for countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis," Sikulu said.

'Storm on the horizon'

Puna said Pacific islands were facing an "unprecedented threat".

"Climate change, like a storm on the horizon, looms large, endangering our homes, our cultures, and our very way of life," he said.

"But let me say this too, in the face of this unprecedented challenge, I see not despair but determination in your eyes. I see not fear but fierce resolve in your hearts. You, the Pacific youth climate warriors, are not defined by the problems that surround you; you are defined by the solutions you seek, the actions you take, and the impact you create."

He said the Pacific climate warriors "represent a beacon of hope" and the declaration would "complement" Forum leaders climate ambitions.

"I look forward to your support towards our Forum Members advocacy efforts at COP 28 and trust the Declaration presented today will be complementary to our eighteen Members and the One CROP advocacy efforts," he said. - RNZ Pacific