Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the opposition members have no right to come here and lecture the government about consultation now as the Climate Change Bill underwent at least 18 months of extensive public consultations but no member of the opposition provided any input for the first, second and third drafts.
While supporting the bill in parliament today, Bainimarama says if the opposition cared about anything other than their hatred for the government, they would have provided an input on the bill.
He also says SODELPA MP, Niko Nawaikula is misinforming parliament when he says consent does not work for the landowners.
Bainimarama says consent by the landowners is pivotal in the leasing of any land in Fiji and the claims that it does not work is coming from someone who worked at the iTaukei Land Trust Board.
The Prime Minister says one thing is clear that the climate crisis is already here and failure to act now jeopardizes the livelihoods of future generations, something that the opposition do not seem to understand.
He says climate change is the challenge of our lifetime and whether we accept it or not, it will fundamentally change Fiji.
Bainimarama says either we will be destroyed by stronger storms and swallowed by the rising seas or we will change ourselves to be more resilient and become a model that the world can follow to stave off the worst of climate change. He says when the world looks for champions for the climate and for the security of coming generations, they look to our islands, they look to Fijians as we have contributed to the fight for solutions through our global leadership.
Bainimarama says as President of COP23, he met with the leaders from China, Russia, USA, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, India, Japan and dozens of others to convey the urgency of cutting emissions and funding climate resilient developments.
The Prime Minister says these leaders listen to Fiji because we are a credible country and we ask nothing from them that we are not prepared to do ourselves.
Bainimarama says we have no hidden agenda, our intention is pure, and we are working to save our people and save our planet.
The Climate Change Bill 2021 is being debated in parliament which deals with carbon trading and Attorney General and Minister for Climate Change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this is a wonderful opportunity for landowners to gain directly from this.
Sayed-Khaiyum stresses property rights are protected.
He says they have brought this legislation simply to create legal framework for recognizing the rights of property owners and the process for registering projects, creating and transferring tradable units, creating a new set of rights and new tradable unit of value which means Fiji can benefit from emerging carbon markets.
Sayed-Khaiyum stresses the Government cannot progress transactions without the consent of the landowners or the iTaukei Land Trust Board.
He also clarified that if someone has a logging lease and wants to do carbon trading, he or she will have to get the consent of the TLTB and one cannot change the purpose of the lease.
As Sayed-Khaiyum was explaining to parliament the processes involved in getting into carbon trading, some opposition parliamentarians also started talking about Bill No.17. He called on them to listen to the explanation, and then said an opposition MP is acting like a buffoon.
There will be a national register which will give property rights to resource owners.
Sayed-Khaiyum says there is a two layered system in the bill that ensures all parties have given their consent.
The Minister for Economy says new potential sources of income for communities will be created through the Climate Change Bill 2021.
SODELPA Leader Viliame Gavoka says they are concerned that not everyone fully understands the Climate Change Bill which is why they need to have more dialogue and consultations on it.
While speaking on the debate to pass the Climate Change Bill in Parliament, Gavoka says a vast majority of the people do not understand these things.
Gavoka says once again it is a tragedy with FijiFirst where they rush over the people of Fiji.
He says there is a conference in Scotland next month and the champion of COP23 will say that they are one of the six countries who have passed the Climate Change Bill.
Gavoka says that appears to be the motive here.
Gavoka also says they agree that climate change is an immediate danger to this planet and steps need to be taken to mitigate the effects to humanity.
He says however this matter could have been taken to the people in a more inclusive way.
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says the Climate Change Bill 2021 cannot be supported in its present form as the amendments that have been made are very minor and it lacks proper clarity.
Prasad says they are not opposed to Fiji having a climate change law but we must not rush into it.
He says there are many grey areas in the bill in need for more extensive and meaningful consultation to ensure the new law is relevant in the Fiji context.
Prasad says while they appreciate the government initiative to ensure that we have a law in place prior to COP26, they feel we must ensure that it is relevant to Fiji.
He says securing climate finance is important but the legislation must be robust and acceptable to our people.
Prasad says we must not rush into making laws and sometimes its better not to have a law than to have a bad law which is not understood by the people and cannot be implemented in an effective manner.
The NFP Leader also says that the proposed bill provides a wide range of powers to the responsible minister and the director which needs clarity.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has today highlighted in parliament Fiji’s priority areas which includes seeking improved access to affordable climate finance at the COP 26 in Scotland in November.
While giving a Ministerial Statement highlighting Fiji’s priority areas for COP 26, Sayed-Khaiyum says access to affordable climate finance is lagging in the Pacific.
Sayed-Khaiyum says we access less than one percent of the climate finance adding that 74 percent of overall climate finance mobilized were in the form of loans.
He highlighted Fiji needs approximately $9.3 billion over a 10 year period to adapt the Fijian economy and an additional $6 billion by 2030 to achieve its nationally determined contributions.
He further says the Pacific Region through a Pacific Forum decision has collectively nominated Fiji to be the Pacific's high level champion top COP 26 on climate finance and oceans.
Sayed-Khaiyum says some of the other priorities areas are to finalize the Paris Rulebook, secure additional commitments towards much stronger nationally determined contributions targets by 2030 and all nations to achieve net zero emission by 2050.
He adds Fiji has developed a national adaption plan with over 160 items that now needs financial support to implement.
Sayed-Khaiyum also highlighted that over 40 rural communities need urgent relocation due to slow and sudden onset of climate change adding that Fiji has established a climate relocation of communities trust fund with New Zealand providing $2.5 million to this. While responding to Sayed-Khaiyum, NFP MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua says nothing that has been detailed by the AG is the least bit convincing where the government’s climate change intentions are.
SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya says government needs to show real commitment rather than bringing the Climate Change Bill just to tick the box in time for COP26 to get climate finance to fund their election campaign.
Tabuya says the bill declares a climate urgency but the actions in the law do not show it.
She says this bill fails to build on creating a green economy filled with green jobs.
Tabuya says the biggest tragedy that this government has brought to the name of climate change is the failed green energy project in Nabou.
She says it failed because government did not have local workers with the expertise in green energy to run the project.
She says we need to invest in our young people and graduates, and until this is realized we will see more failed projects like Nabou.
Meanwhile Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the Nabou project is not carbon trading as Tabuya claimed.
“Yes, we want the money but we are not only doing this for the money.”
Minister for Economy and Climate Change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stated this while giving his right of reply on the Climate Change Bill 2021 and responding to opposition MPs who had said the bill has been brought just to get more money from the international community.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they have to build roads and sea walls due to the inundation of water and all these cost money.
He says this was not a problem 50 years ago but is a problem now and it will get worse. Sayed-Khaiyum says this is where they have to build resilient infrastructure.
The Minister for Economy adds it is not only about money but creating a sustainable economy that creates jobs in carbon trading in the green environment.
The Climate Change Bill which has been passed deals with carbon trading and according to Sayed-Khaiyum, this is a wonderful opportunity for landowners to gain directly from this.
Sayed-Khaiyum told parliament that they will be having reach out programs with all landowners in the next few months.
He confirms two landowning groups have already agreed to participate in this and they hope to get them the source of revenue which they did not have access to.
National Federation Party MP Lenora Qereqeretabua has questioned what does the rest of the cabinet think about the Climate Change Bill after being disrespected again with more of their authority yanked from under their feet, thanks to Schedule 1 of the bill.
She says schedule 1 lists 40 other laws under other ministerial portfolios that now allows the famous self-proclaimed guru of everything to wade into their turf.
Qereqeretabua says as much as they empathise with the government members who are not the Prime Minister or the Attorney General, their stunts and table thumping can gather them no sympathy at all.
She also says the Climate Change Bill is all about one individual monetizing and incentivizing our climate vulnerability with the very nations who have high greenhouse gas emissions.
Qereqeretabua says there is no way the NFP can support this bill in this current form.
She says the Committee could only come up with 3 cosmetic amendments to the bill where the first change is to force the Minister to appoint a Director with a "must" instead of a "may".
Qereqeretabua says the report also makes a weak attempt at justifying this law is a whole of government collaboration because everyone knows this is not true.
She says it is astonishing that the Committee did a desktop impact assessment on the Sustainable Development Goals and National Development Plans but did no overall impact assessment of the Bill in totality.
The NFP MP says instead the Committee passes this off by saying they can make corrections as they move along.
Meanwhile Sayed-Khaiyum says the laws listed in schedule 1 of the Climate Change Bill are not subservient.
He says under clause 19, when the decisions are made under those laws, the decision maker must ensure that the decision or action promotes or is consistent with the objectives and principles of the Climate Change Bill which are mitigation, adaption and guidelines issued by the Minister and Fiji’s national security sovereignty.
He says these are factors for the decision makers to seek, promote or achieve.
Click to read: Climate Change Bill 2021
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