SUVA, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama stressed on Wednesday the importance of dealing with climate change, saying if the global community does not act to decisively cut emissions, these storms Fiji has experienced will only become more severe in the years ahead.
Speaking in his New Year message on Wednesday, Bainimarama said that many Fijian families have had a rough start to the new year as tropical cyclone Sarai swept across the island nation, flooding roadways, knocking out power and severing critical services.
He said that his total focus is on the Fijians who - through no fault on their own - are recovering from yet another bout of severe weather. They will get services back online, and they will continue to invest in more resilient infrastructure, construct seawalls, plant mangroves and implement other adaptive measures.
While cyclones have always been a part of life in Fiji, the frequency of extreme weather is a ruthless reminder of Fiji's high vulnerabilities to climate impacts, he said, adding that the increasing frequency and intensity of these storms is one reason why Fiji has been ranked as one of the 10 countries in the world most affected by climate change.
"This stark reality is why Fiji fights unapologetically in the international arena to push high-emitting countries to combat climate change. We cannot allow headlines telling of storms wreaking havoc in our region to become routine. We cannot - we will not - allow the world to become numb to what we are experiencing," the prime minister said.
He pointed out that if the global community does not act to decisively cut emissions, these storms will only become more severe in the years ahead. That would be an unacceptable reality for Fiji, their neighbouring Pacific Island countries, and every other nation and people on earth.
In 2016, Fiji was hit by tropical cyclone Winston, which killed 44 people and caused extensive damages to the island country.