A mid the rustling palm trees, blissed newlyweds and colourful attire of a tropical island resort, Pacific leaders have been getting blunt with wealthy nations about the unfolding calamity of climate change that is gradually gnawing away their remote idylls.
At a summit in Fiji last week, the last major gathering of Pacific island nations before crunch UN climate talks in Paris next month, islanders thrashed out their collective plea to the world to help address the health impacts of climate change, particularly upon women, infants and adolescents.
Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Fiji’s foreign minister, said the country was dealing with the re-emergence of climate-influenced diseases such as typhoid, dengue fever, leptospirosis and diarrhoeal illnesses. Last year, a dengue outbreak in Fiji infected 20,000 people.
But the meeting also showed that Fiji, for one, is not pulling any more punches with large, industrialised nations it sees as culpable for climate change.
“We in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age,” said Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama.
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