After a long four years of climate funding extraction and decline in political prioritization of the climate crisis in the Pacific under the US Trump Administration, the Pacific region has now collectively heaved a sigh of relief with the incoming pro-science President Joe Biden.
The Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum who is also the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, one of the most vulnerable nations to the climate crisis, Hon. Kausea Natano expressed his delight at the prospects of working with Biden. “We look forward to working closely with President Biden and his administration, with urgency and shared values for a safe and secure future for our great Blue Planet.”
The Pacific islands, who contribute the least to global emissions have long suffered first and worst impacts of the climate crisis with both slow onset and extreme weather events which include cyclones, floods, droughts, storm-surges, ocean acidification and many others. The reentry of the US into the Paris Agreement has nonetheless been a welcome move.
“Our Blue Pacific faces a climate change crisis that threatens our future prosperity and the move by President Biden and his administration to bring the US back to the Paris Agreement is warmly welcomed and appreciated,” Hon. Natano said.
“We look forward to working closely with President Biden and his administration, with urgency and shared values for a safe and secure future for our great Blue Planet.”
In addition to requesting to rejoin the Agreement on day one, President-elect Biden has to demonstrate that US is committed to reclaiming US leadership in climate science, policy and action in a meaningful way for the Pacific islands.
This approach includes delivering financial support in alignment with the Paris Agreement such as the various climate funds which Pacific islands depend to implement necessary climate projects and interventions at the regional and national levels.
According to the World Resource Institute the Biden administration needs to increase its financial support for climate solutions in developing countries if it is to regain its place as a leader on the international stage.
“Such overseas climate funding is important to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to increasingly severe climate impacts. Stepping up climate finance includes re-establishing financing for the Green Climate Fund, as Biden has promised to do, starting with the $2 billion outstanding from what the United States pledged in 2014. Last year, other developed countries made a new round of pledges to the GCF, with many doubling their contributions; countries will expect the Biden administration to match this level of effort in its next pledge.”
WRI notes that the Biden administration should consider becoming a contributor to the Adaptation Fund, which finances small-scale adaptation projects, and increase its funding for the Global Environment Facility, which funds a wide range of environmental projects. The incoming administration should also increase bilateral support for climate action in developing countries, especially for adaptation and resilience.
For the Pacific, the next four years will be an integral relationship rebuilding exercise for the US and small island states.