Fiji's Attorney-General, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with Dr. Tim Flannery
By Steve Pogonowski
Australian environmentalist and global warming activist Dr Tim Flannery gave the keynote speech, titled Climate change and Conservation in the south west Pacific, at the Vodafone Arena in Suva, Fiji.
Dr Flannery is a member of the Wentworth Group of scientists and became Australia's first chief climate commissioner in 2011. In 2013 he founded the Climate Council to continue communicating authoritative climate change information to the Australian public.
In 2005 he was honoured as Australian Humanist of the Year and, in 2007 he was named Australian of the Year. Dr Flannery has also written many books, including The Future Eaters (1994), The Weather Makers (2005) and Here on Earth (2010).
This morning he discussed the effects of increased carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel combustion over the past century and the long-term impact that it is expected to have on temperature and acid levels in the ocean.
He said this is the “critical decade”, where global and national decisions on fossil fuel use by 2020 would determine long-term temperature and sea level rises and biodiversity losses.
“To stabilise the climate at a manageable level, most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground,” Dr Flannery said.
“What we are doing with the world’s oceans in terms of putting more carbon dioxide into them amounts to systemic poisoning. As we heat our oceans, we encourage coral bleaching and loss of species diversity.
“For the Pacific island countries, coral reefs are not just your supermarket, they are also your fortifications against the ocean.”
While traditional energy providers have been slow to invest in renewable energy, Dr Flannery said they were now “scrabbling to catch up” as wind and solar technology reduced in cost and gained greater acceptance as alternative energy sources.
He praised Fiji for its commitment to investment in renewable energy and to encouraging local manufacturers to use biodegradable plastics.