Pacific Islands seek US help to combate climate change

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama says Climate is not a hoax.

The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.

He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.

Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects. But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.

“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax.

“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Rising sea
He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.

After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.

This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.

CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.

UK joins the club
The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.

“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22.

“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline,’’ Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute said.

Marrakech Proclamation
The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.

Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with the new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.

Mercy Chukwudiebere

Saudi coalition declares 48-hour Yemen truce
The Saudi-led military coalition supporting Yemen’s government against the Houthi rebels has declared a 48-hour ceasefire to begin on Saturday.

The ceasefire will begin at midday (0900 GMT), the Saudi government announced via state media.

The coalition said that “the truce could be renewed if the Houthis observed it and allowed aid to be delivered to rebel-held areas in the southwest.’’

Civil war
More than 10,000 people have died in 20 months of civil war in the country.

There has been no word yet from the Houthis and several previous ceasefires have broken down.

Ceasefire agreement
US Secretary of State John Kerry had this week, said that the coalition and Houthis had agreed on a ceasefire to begin on Thursday. But the internationally recognised Yemeni government, led by exiled president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, rejected the move, complaining that it had been being bypassed.

The truce announced by Mr Kerry held in some parts of the country but not others. More than 20 civilians were killed on Friday in the shelling of a busy market in the war-torn city of Taiz.

International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said one of its staff was also killed, calling it “another heartbreaking example of a hard-working citizen affected by this ongoing conflict.”

Taiz has been one of the worst-affected cities in Yemen’s conflict, witnessing some of the heaviest and most sustained fighting in the country.

Humanitarian assistance
The UN estimates that more than three million people have been displaced from the conflict and 21 million are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

Two million people are malnourished nationwide, including 370,000 children who are severely malnourished.

The conflict has also ravaged Yemen’s health system. More than half of the health facilities the country are closed or partially functioning, a survey by the World Health Organisation found earlier this month.

Mercy Chukwudiebere