Coastal area, Fiji: Climate action needs to be enhanced to save small islands like Fiji. <br/> Photo: Frontier official/Conor Meikleham (flickr)

Coastal area, Fiji: Climate action needs to be enhanced to save small islands like Fiji.
Photo: Frontier official/Conor Meikleham (flickr)

All aboard the “Train to Bonn”!

Representatives and delegations of various organisations as well as politicians were on board the “Train to Bonn” specially organised by German railway company “Deutsche Bahn AG” for the Climate Conference COP 23.

“There is only one Mother Earth, so we have to take action now,” Deutsche Bahn CEO Richard Lutz told passengers on board a special train heading for the COP 23 UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany.

Referring to DB’s commitments to combating climate change, Lutz explained the company’s target of achieving 50 per cent less CO2 emitted by 2030 and its long-distance transport to use 100 per cent renewable energy starting in 2018.

Jean-Pierre Lubinoux, Director General of Union International des Chemins de Fer (UIC), which promotes rail transport world-wide, reported on UIC’s involvement in debates around climate change mitigation and announced that his organisation would be discussing the development of effective actions on transport and climate change at the Conference.

Two degrees are like a death sentence for Fiji

Just how vital steps towards combating climate change are was vividly underlined by Frances Namoumou, Climate Officer for Fiji for the Pacific Church Conference (PCC), and by other spokespersons from the Pacific island nations threatened by sea-level rise.

According to Namoumou, the limit for global warming referred to in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is not enough, and she believes that it might already be too late to prevent disaster.

“The two degrees people are celebrating elsewhere are more like a death sentence for us,” she told her fellow passengers. The first coastal village in Fiji, with around 200 inhabitants, had already been evacuated. The people were now in safety in higher-lying areas, but they had lost their homes as well as their fishing tradition.

Namoumou maintains that Fiji can only survive if a 1.5 degree limit is achieved. Fiji’s presidency of the COP 23 Conference could draw more attention to the island nation’s plight, and also to the predicament other Pacific island countries are facing.

Tafue Lusama, President of the Red Cross in Tuvalu, reported that everyone in his country was affected by global warming, but that people there had no highlands to go to, his islands not being of volcanic origin. Lusama said he would be campaigning for the 1.5 degree limit in Bonn.

Germany’s Federal Minister of Environment, Barbara Hendricks, also on board the train, emphasised that the Paris Agreement did stipulate a target “well below two degrees”, but added that politicians ought to be ambitious enough to really go for the 1.5 degree limit.

A new knowledge hub

Meanwhile, Germany’s Federal Minister of Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, has initiated the development of an “Agriculture and Climate” knowledge platform in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The aim is to concentrate fragmented knowledge and knowhow that can assist developing countries in adapting their agriculture to climate change. Schmidt argues that the key to a contribution from agriculture to the climate goals is to make it more efficient. He regards intensified agricultural production making optimum use of available resources as the way forward.

Mike Gardner, journalist, Bonn/Germany

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