By: CHARLENE LANYON/The Fiji Times

FIJI has become the first Pacific Island nation to preside over the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany next year.

The United Nations event is an annual meeting to discuss climate change-related issues around the world.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, accepting the presidency of COP 23, said the country was honoured to be given the important task and aware of the responsibilities ahead.

“As the region of the world that is destined to bear the worst brunt of the effects of climate change, we have been given a crucial platform to put our case,” he said.

“As president of COP 23, we will use this platform to continue to press for deeper cuts in carbon emissions to reduce global warming even further. And to counter the rising sea levels and extreme weather events that threaten the very existence of some nations.

“We will also do everything we can to lobby the industrial countries who are responsible for these emissions to allocate adequate funding, in the form of grants, to enable us to build our resilience and adapt to the terrifying new era that awaits us.”

Mr Bainimarama said the Pacific region also looked to America for its leadership, engagement and assistance on the issue of climate change.

“I renew my offer to President-elect Trump to come to Fiji to see the effects of climate change for himself. And to meet Pacific Island leaders face-to-face in Fiji to discuss the crisis we are all facing, along with other low-lying areas of the world including parts of America.

“As the second biggest carbon emitter on earth, the US must take responsibility for contributing to our collective response to this crisis and show leadership at this critical time.”

COP 23 is scheduled for November 6-17 next year.

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