Kiribati President Anote Tong today called on world leaders to support a global moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions.
He urged all State leaders to back his call in the lead up to the UN climate talks in Paris this December.
Kiribati, as a nation faced with a very uncertain future, is calling for a global moratorium on new coal mines. It would be one positive step towards our collective global action against climate change and it is my sincere hope that you and your people would add your positive support in this endeavour.
Let us join together as a global community and take action now. The construction of each new coal mine undermines the spirit and intent of any agreement we may reach, particularly in the upcoming COP21 in Paris, whilst stopping new coal mine constructions now will make any agreement reached in Paris truly historical.
As leaders, we have a moral obligation to ensure that the future of our children, our grandchildren and their children is safe and secure. For their sake, I urge you to support this call for a moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions.
Like many other Pacific Island nations, Kiribati’s very existence is under threat from rising sea levels, driven by climate change, itself driven by the burning of fossil fuels – especially coal.
For many island nations, their very existence is at risk if the world continues to burn fossil fuels. 100,000 people in Kiribati face an uncertain future, while across the pacific, island nations struggle to cope with damaging flooding at high tides.
Welcoming the call Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo said:
The people of Kiribati are refusing to be silenced by reckless governments and corporations that are perpetuating climate change, and which in turn is causing rising sea-levels. We know the science and we know the end of the age of coal is coming.
Scrambling to dig up more dirty coal can only be driven by ignorance or sheer disregard for the millions of people at risk from burning it. We need international leadership on this issue and a planned retreat from coal involving a just transition for existing workers and developed in consultation with affected communities.
The science is very clear: 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world is to remain below the agreed red line of 2C of average warming.
With the market digging an increasingly deep grave for coal, it appears economic reality is catching up. Now it is the turn of world leaders to get up to speed.
Over 50 countries have now gone public with their national climate plans ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris this December.
Tong’s warning is clear: “the construction of each new coal mine undermines the spirit and intent of any agreement” to be met in Paris this December.
A rapid transition away from coal to clean renewables is only way forward if governments are to secure a safe and prosperous future for their pacific and developing world neighbours for generations to come.