Vila Times

A climate for change in the Pacific

Vila Times’s Mobile Application

Pacific island states hope to work with a new administration in the White House to galvanise global action on climate change, writes Wesley Morgan.

Fiji’s Prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, was the first to congratulate Joe Biden on his election as president of the United States.  There was little doubt what he wanted from the next leader of the free world. “Together, we have a planet to save from a climate emergency”, he tweeted.  Bainimarama realised that Pacific island countries had just gained a powerful ally in the global fight to tackle climate change. Not only has Biden promised to recommit the US to the Paris Agreement, but also to “lead an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate targets”.  Bainimarama quickly followed up with a formal letter, inviting Biden to attend the annual Pacific Islands Forum in mid-2021. In the age of COVID19, leaders may end up meeting online, which would make it easier for world leaders to attend.  Even if Biden does not attend the regional leaders’ meeting – which is scheduled to be held in Fiji’s capital Suva, with Bainimarama due to take on chair of the Forum – the US will likely send a senior figure.  This may well be a key moment to renew US engagement with Pacific countries, with expected to set out a long-term vision for regional cooperation by declaring a ‘2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific’.

Pacific island countries have previously worked with the United States to galvanise climate action.  In 2015 for example, Pacific diplomats worked with US counterparts to build support for the Paris Agreement – the first global climate treaty. Meeting in Hawaii in 2016, Obama told Pacific leaders “we could not have gotten a Paris Agreement without the incredible efforts and hard work of the island nations … they made an enormous difference”.  Pacific island states will be hoping to again collaborate with the US to strengthen commitment to the Paris Agreement.  At next year’s UN climate summit, countries are expected to pledge stronger targets to reduce emissions and to set out plans for long-term decarbonisation of their economies.  Pacific island countries are heartened by Biden’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions, and hope to work with the new US administration to press other countries to put forward similar targets.  This could prove awkward for Canberra, with Australia so far refusing to join other countries in the Asia-Pacific – including New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and even China – who are pledging net-zero mid-century climate targets.

In addition to climate change, other security issues are likely to be high on the agenda.  The Pacific islands are increasingly important to the US in the context of geostrategic competition with China.  In recent times there has been concern that Beijing has been making inroads at the expense of traditional powers like the US, Australia, and New Zealand. Of most concern has been the prospect that China might leverage large infrastructure loans to secure a Chinese naval base in the Pacific. While there seems little prospect of that, Pacific leaders will nonetheless welcome a renewed US engagement in the region, to help tackle the impacts of climate change and recover from the impacts of the COVID19 pandemic.  Island leaders will also welcome US support for the construction of new infrastructure in the Pacific islands and will look to the US for help to manage their large maritime zones and to secure the region’s valuable fisheries.  As Bainimarama explained in his congratulations to Biden: “we welcome a strong American presence in the Pacific to help maintain a peaceful and secure Blue Pacific”.  A ‘BLUE Pacific Act’ was introduced in the US Congress earlier this year.  Put forward by a bipartisan ‘Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus’ (a new grouping of US legislators), the bill proposes a long-term framework for US foreign policy in the Pacific islands focused on “security, development and shared-values”.  If revisited and passed by the next Congress, the BLUE Pacific Act will see an expansion of US diplomatic presence in the region, and a significant boost to aid and security cooperation with Pacific island states.

Finally, the appointment of Kamala Harris – the first person of colour, or woman, to become US vice-president – will also be celebrated by many in the Pacific.  As with other parts of the world, women still face many barriers to political power in the Pacific islands, and Harris will be seen as an inspiration for change. In Fiji in particular, which has a large Indian-diaspora community, Harris will be embraced for her Indian heritage and her success as the daughter of a migrant family.  For her part, Harris describes black women as the ‘backbone’ of American democracy.  While there have been governance challenges in the post-independence Pacific, the region remains committed to norms of liberal democracy, and the election of both Biden and Harris will be seen as a beacon of hope to many.

AUTHOR

Dr Wesley Morgan is Adjunct Research Fellow with the Griffith Asia Institute, and a member of GAI’s ‘Pacific Hub’.

57 comments

  • Thanks on your marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author. I will make sure to bookmark your blog and may come back down the road. Tierney Akim Tab

  • Hi there mates, how is the whole thing, and what you would like to say regarding this post, in my view its genuinely remarkable in favor of me.| Waneta Nels Cassaundra

  • of course like your website however you need to test the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to tell the reality nevertheless I will surely come back again. Halie Brody Nakada

  • I was more than happy to discover this page. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely loved every part of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new information in your blog. Karla Shepperd Cob

  • jika mengindahkan baksis rp 100 miliun, maka tiap tiap pengikut bakal menjalankan segala apa cuma sehingga kapabel membawa berbalik profit hal yang seperti itu. itu lah yg kelanjutannya mengakibatkan luas makhluk bergerombol kerubung rubrik tontonan spekulasi slots online. karena cuma di aku coyotesrunwinery.com, mereka sanggup beroleh uang ratusan juta rupiah cuma di sungguh-sungguh ketika tak genap berasal gara-gara suatu keadaan. luput se- pemenang pada th. ini, anton honifar, ala reseptif mengutarakan betapa dengan cara apa emosinya memihak duit ratusan juta rupiah di luar permainan judi slots online. tergambarnya anton honifar ke bidang jemaah ini menyatakan bahwa hadiah rp 100 miliun pertunjukan slot online tak cuma kecap belaka. anton honifar bahkan terasa menceritakan pelawatan ramainya sebelum selanjutnya sanggup memiliki profit menakjubkan hal yang begitu. dahulu dia ialah seorang driver atau supir tidak polos esa atasan media eminen. melainkan sesudah rutin petik tipuan slot online, denyutnya beronggeng; meronggeng pergantian menurut drastis. ia malahan menceritakan sebagian kiat bakal sanggup beroleh ung ratusan juta mata uang cuma di selama kala sekejap titik berat. Etta Jared Corliss

  • Just go to ISaidYesBook.com and enter your receipt number and email address. Let me know if you have any problems and THANK YOU for supporting me! xox Garnette Bourke Terence

  • Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good. Hyacinthia Kale Arleen

  • Very clean store and restrooms. Great service and good breakfast. We certainly will stop again when in the area. Perrine Arel Anthia Rena Gregorius Lenka

  • Awesome write-up. I am a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a regular visitor for a long time. Pammy Wayne Boak

  • I not to mention my guys have already been reviewing the nice things found on your web page and then suddenly came up with a terrible feeling I never thanked you for them. All of the young boys came absolutely warmed to read through all of them and have in effect in actuality been taking advantage of them. Appreciation for really being simply thoughtful and then for choosing this kind of outstanding tips most people are really wanting to be aware of. Our honest regret for not expressing gratitude to sooner. Dulcea Wakefield Cad

  • Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.| Kari Heall Risteau

  • I blog often and I really appreciate your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too. Joni Humbert Tyrrell

  • I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this information for my mission. Phillis Bertrando Idette

  • This allows you some background information to prepare your words before you do call them back, not to mention not having to turn your laptop on and check your email messages. Bessy Caleb Eckmann

  • Google

    Very couple of web-sites that take place to be comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely really worth checking out.

  • Steroid Powders Online

    […]we like to honor lots of other online sites around the internet, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Below are some webpages really worth checking out[…]

  • virtual card buy

    […]we like to honor quite a few other world wide web websites on the internet, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out[…]

  • Space Invaders Arcade

    […]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless seriously worth taking a search, whoa did a single study about Mid East has got additional problerms as well […]

  • Multi Family Homes For Sale

    […]we like to honor many other world-wide-web web sites around the internet, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages really worth checking out[…]

  • BEST SUPPLIMENTS FOR RACEHORSES

    […]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated information, nonetheless truly really worth taking a look, whoa did 1 understand about Mid East has got far more problerms as well […]