Samoa Environment Minister appeals to 'poor boy' Obama

25/11/2009 16:28

By Cherelle Jackson

APIA - Hon. Faumuina Liuga, the Environment Minister for Samoa will be appealing to the "poor boy" side of the United States President Barrack Obama in Copenhagen, Denmark as a last effort to secure a commitment by the United States to climate change negotiations.
Obama who was recently confirmed to attend the high level meeting will be met with a plea by the Samoan Minister at the meeting.
Asked what he would say to Obama, Liuga said: "I will say try and help the poor guy, as he was also a poor boy. He grew up as a poor guy, from nothing to now a big
Liuga said Obama should empathise: "I am sure he is the only person ruling or who has become the most powerful person in the world who was living in that type of
lifestyle as a poor boy from his early childhood times."
Liuga who was born and brought up on the island of Savaii also had humble beginings, but he says that Obama of all people should understand.
"I have been to Kenya many times and I think he knows what small island countries are talking about, and I will just convey to him that he should try to help the poor
as much as he can."
Liuga says the reluctance of the US to sign binding agreements and to commit to minimising carbon emmissions has been unimpressive.
"I feel very dissapointed, dissappointed in a way that they are the major contributers to climate change, global emmissions and they are not taking action to correct
their own mistakes. We suffer because of the big developed countries carbon emmissions," Liuga said.
Growing up on the island of Savaii, Liuga was just like any other little boy from Samoa, whose life evolved around the ocean and whose family depended very much on the
land for survival.
Climate change is an issue that affects him directly as his family on Savaii still live near the coast.
"Sea level rise is a threat to the existence of our people," he said.
Samoa signed Kyoto on the 16th of March 1998, and was accepted for ratification on the 27th of November 2000.
"Samoa has done more than any other island in regards to the Kyoto Protocol, we have shown full commitment," Liuga says.
Samoa will be represented by at least seven Government officials including the Prime Minister Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi.
"It will be a large delegation and we will be taking part in the high level meeting," Liuga said.
Despite the enormity of the meeting and the hype worldwide the Minister is not .
"I am not optimistic in this coming Copenhagen, I wish it would make a difference, but i am not optimistic. They may delay, the Kyoto Protocol is meant to end in 2012
but I believe that these bigger guys will probably make a counter proposal to delay by probably three years, 2015 or even 2020, and that will be too late."
The concern by Liuga is not unfounded, Samoa along with it's Pacific island neighbours stand to lose much if nothing is done on climate change.
In a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Samoa is identified as a high risk area concerning the impacts of climate change. "Because of their
[islands] strong dependence on economic sectors that are highly sensitive to climate change effects, small island states clearly are a vulnerable group of countries."
It further states: "local severe to catastrophic, effects would be experienced by Vanuatu and Samoa."
However a published report by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme states: "It must be emphasised, however, that the sensitivity of small
islands to the projected effects of climate change cannot be attributed to any single factor such as size, elevation, remoteness, or to a select group of factors.
Rather, the level of vulnerability of these islands is determined by the increasing and collective result of these and related biophysical attributes combined with the
islands' economic and socio-cultural characters."
The National Adaptation Programme of Action for Samoa [NAPA] identifies major vulnerabilities for Samoa.
Areas such as Agriculture and Food Security will be affected due to the instability of food production levels to meet higher demands from climate change induced
NAPA also identifies water as a vulnerable area due to droughts as well as biological diversity, health, forestry, coastal infrastructure and environment, tourism,
urban settlement and village communities.
Liuga who arrives in Copenhagen on the second week of the meeting says developed countries should stop the blame game and start actions to make a difference.