WELLINGTON (OXFAM) — Oxfam welcomes the Pacific Island Forum’s acknowledgement that the response to the climate crisismust involve a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, but notes this acknowledgement falls short of Pacific civil society demands for the statement to go further and call for an end to all production of fossil fuels in our region.

Oxfam in the Pacific’s Executive Director, Eunice Wotene said: “We joined Pacific civil society in calling on leaders to commit to a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels. Instead, we saw Pacific leaders pay mere lip service to this urgent call. The science is clear, the only viable way forward is an unwavering commitment to giving up fossil fuels entirely, a move that will safeguard our land, our ocean and our resources – as our ancestors have done for generations before us.

“It is disheartening to witness the reluctance of some Forum leaders in embracing this imperative and to witness the pleas of Pacific Islanders undermined by the interests of powerful nations with outsized contributions to the climate crisis. Pacific Islanders do not want symbolic gestures or aspirational language – we need concrete commitments and courageous leadership. Anything less is an affront to Pacific communities and a betrayal of our urgent call for climate action.”

“In the final communique at the conclusion of the Forum, we can see the results of the New Zealand and Australian governments pressuring other Pacific countries to dilute their commitment to ending fossil fuels down to just an aspirational statement,” says Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry.

“We’ve been concerned to hear that while Pacific leaders pushed hard for the Forum to spearhead the global phaseout of oil, coal and gas, New Zealand and Australia made sure their dirty fossil fuel extraction and production was excluded from the final text.

“While all PIF governments agreed at the Forum to aspire to a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, our incoming government faced justified scrutiny over its totally inconsistent plans to reopen offshore exploration for new oil and fossil gas. To be meaningful, their aspiration has to be followed with action – something we must hold them to.

“We congratulate Pacific leaders for securing some key practical commitments that back up the PIF’s aspiration with substance. We welcome the commitment from all Pacific leaders to phase out fossil fuels in our energy systems in line with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, along with commitments to increase climate finance and appoint an Energy Commissioner for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific.

“Across the Pacific, our people deserve and need a fast and just transition, where a managed decline of fossil fuel production is matched with the creation of good jobs in renewable energy, clean industries and social services. It would be absurd to go looking for new fossil fuels in a climate crisis, when we know that just the oil and gas in currently active fields would take us past 1.5 degrees.”

“Pacific civil society have called on the New Zealand and Australian Governments to stand with them, not with the fossil fuel industry. We want our political leaders to stand united with the rest of the Pacific and take a bold, clear call for a global end to fossil fuel production all the way to COP28 in Dubai.” said Henry.

“The reluctance to commit to a timetable for a rapid phase out of fossil fuels means that leaders are still not serious about staying within 1.5 degrees of warming, with the lives and cultures of so many people across the Pacific threatened as a result,” said Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain….PACNEWS

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