For Immediate Release
12 May 2023, Port Vila, Vanuatu — In another show of regional climate leadership from Pacific Leaders, the Fifth Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ Meeting (PRETMM) concluded this afternoon with Ministers and senior officials agreeing to prioritize a people-centred approach to achieving a Just and Equitable Transition towards a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, and to enable and implement the Port Vila Call to Action.
A key outcome from the meeting was a call by Ministers for Pacific Island Leaders to formally endorse the Port Vila Call to Action at the PIF Leaders Meeting hosted by the Cook Islands in October 2023.
The Efate Outcome Statement puts our region on a decarbonisation path with strong language on phasing out coal, oil, and gas, and the need for a just transition to a “Fossil Fuel Free Pacific”.
Importantly, two significant announcements by Pacific governments were also made at the PRETMM:
The Government of Kiribati formally announced its support for a call made by a bloc of 6 Pacific nations in March of this year who issued the Port Vila Call to Action, committing to working towards a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific.
The Kingdom of Tonga formally endorsed calls for the negotiation of a fossil fuel treaty. As the world’s third most at-risk country for climate impacts like cyclones, floods and sea level rise in the 2021 World Risk Report, Tonga joins two other Pacific island nations, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, who are also calling for the same.
Climate change remains the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific. In recognising that the “effects of climate change are real, appalling and existential in Pacific island societies today”, we cannot stress enough how important it is for our Energy and Transport Ministers to continue to steer our region towards decarbonisation and to urgently address the source of emissions—fossil fuels.
Reactions by Pacific civil society:
Lavetanalagi Seru, Regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network says: “We commend the Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers for their decision to accelerate efforts for a just and equitable transition, underscoring the urgency to act in the face of the existential threat of climate change. Pacific governments must accelerate decarbonization in the energy and transport sectors, and the region should be a leader in the phasing out of fossil fuels. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have the opportunity later this year to respond to the ambition that is set out in the Port Vila Call for Action. We need our Leaders to exemplify the regional solidarity and muster the political will to collectively address the region’s greatest security threat”.
Joseph Sikulu, 350.org Pacific Managing Director says: “The call from the Pacific keeps getting stronger: we urgently need a phase out of fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy. We welcome and celebrate the outcome from the Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers, alongside Tonga’s endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty. The Pacific continues to model the leadership needed to avert the worst of the climate crisis, and to create climate solutions with a just, people-centered approach. We call on those that claim to be neighbors, allies and friends of the Pacific to follow suit and utilize the multitude of resources, finance and political weight available to them to support the just transition.”
Richard Gokrun, Executive Director, Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN) says:
“TuCAN welcomes the Efate Outcome Statement by Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers. As a region, we continue to cut through the doom and gloom and create our own path towards an equal, fair and just future. We no longer have the luxury of time and as such commit to working alongside our Pacific governments towards the full realization of the Port Vila Call to Action.”
George Koran, Vanuatu Climate Action Network Coordinator says: “We congratulate Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers for sustaining the climate ambition required to accelerate decarbonization and move the region towards a just and equitable transition. As momentum continues to build within our region, it is now up to our leaders to continue down the path of reimagining our own future and to show everyone that another world is possible, one free from fossil fuels. They must endorse the Port Vila Call to Action.”
About the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN):
PICAN is a regional alliance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), social movements and not-for-profit organizations from the Pacific Islands region working on various aspects of climate change, disaster risk and response and sustainable development.
Image from Fifth Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers Meeting available for download here.
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