Fiji urges 'absolute dedication' to toughest climate target

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji addresses the 71st United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Thomson Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - Fiji called on Tuesday for "absolute dedication" to the strictest limits on global warming as it prepares to preside at U.N. talks next month seeking to keep the Paris climate agreement on track after a U.S. pullout.

Fiji is hosting a preparatory meeting of delegates before the Nov. 6-17 talks in Bonn, Germany, where environment ministers from around the world will work on a set of international guidelines for the Paris accord.

The 2015 agreement was dealt a major blow in June when U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal. The United States is the world's second highest gas emitter after China and the only country among the deal's 195 signatories to pull out.

"We can no longer ignore this (climate) crisis," Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in an address to the delegates.

"It's hard to find any part of the world that is unaffected by these events," he said, listing Atlantic storms such as Ophelia battering Ireland, wildfires in California, Portugal and Spain or floods in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh.

Some of Fiji's islands are vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, aggravated by storm surges, but less so than low-lying states such as the Maldives and Tuvalu.

The 2015 Paris Agreement set a target of limiting a rise in average surface temperatures to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, ideally 1.5C (2.7F).

Many scientists say that the 1.5 degree goal is fast slipping out of reach because of insufficient action by all nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Bainimarama said "an absolute dedication to meet the 1.5 degree target is what we need and what we must take to Bonn."

He did not refer to Trump, who has sometimes dismissed mainstream scientific findings about rising temperatures as a hoax, saying that he instead wants to bolster the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by raissa Kasolowsky)

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