Fiji cyclone highlights urgency in ratifying Paris climate deal – group
MANILA, Philippines – The destruction brought by Cyclone Winston in Fiji over the weekend highlights the urgency for countries to ratify the United Nations climate agreement, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) said Wednesday, February 24.
The South Pacific island-nation of Fiji is reeling from the category 5 cyclone, which hit Saturday, February 20, and has so far caused 42 deaths.
“This is another painful reminder of why global action on climate change is so urgent and vital," said Philippine Climate Change Commission (CCC) Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman, also the chair of the CVF.
CVF is a partnership of 43 countries, most of which are among the most vulnerable to effects of climate chage.
Ironically, Fiji was the first country in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement, a historic pact approved on December 12, 2015, at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris, France.
The deal aims to stem the effects of climate change and targets a maximum 2ºC (3.6ºF) rise in global temperatures compared to pre-industrial levels.
"At just one degree of warming experienced today, vulnerable countries continue to bear the brunt of record breaking storms, flooding and weather extremes," De Guzman was quoted as saying in a statement from CVF.
The CVF is also calling on the 195 nations party to the deal to sign the agreement during the ceremonial signing at the UN headquarters in April, and to "move fast on its implementation."
"We’re expecting all countries to collaborate to safeguard our people by keeping warming to the minimum, which means living up to the 1.5 degrees limit enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”
Severe tropical cyclone Winston lashed the Pacific nation overnight Saturday, packing wind gusts of 325 kilometers (202 miles) per hour and leaving a trail of destruction.
"42 Fijians now confirmed dead – disaster officials continue to deploy teams to help those affected across Fiji," government spokesman Dan Gavidi tweeted Wednesday.
In addition to the mounting death toll, Care Australia said the number of people left homeless had ballooned to 34,000, up from 8,500 two days ago, and was also inexorably rising.
Winston was the first category 5 cyclone to ever hit the country, and is considered as one of the most destructive. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com