The Republic of Fiji has marked history by being the first country in the world to ratify the Paris Climate Change deal, which was drawn up by 195 countries in December last year.
On Friday, Fiji's lawmakers unanimously agreed to approve the United Nations climate agreement, pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions. According to media reports, the motion to ratify the deal was brought to parliament by Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, Fiji's attorney general and acting foreign minister.
Khaiyum told the parliament that the Fijian government would need to formalize the deal before the signing ceremony in New York on April 22, where Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will sign the document on behalf of the island nation.
The attorney general said tackling climate change is one of the major priorities of the archipelago. In a report, Fiji said it was already facing wide-scale flooding, eroding shorelines, more vicious tropical storms, and depleting supplies of fish as a result of the changing climate.
Fiji is a volcanic archipelago with about 300 islands and with a population of 881,600. Under its climate change action plan (PDF), Fiji vowed to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. The island nation also pledged to cut overall emissions from its energy sector by 30 percent in 15 years.
"We also want to establish Fiji as one of the leading island nations in the world to discuss the new areas of legal implications of climate change," said Khaiyum. This included the loss of land, land that sinks under water due to sea level rise, and the situation of climate change refugees.
Fiji's decision to formalize the agreement is the beginning of an expected wave of ratification as other countries prepare for their attendance at the ceremony in New York.
The Paris Climate Change agreement needs at least 55 countries to ratify the treaty in order to formally take effect worldwide. The number represents at least 55 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the planet.
Experts believe the milestone can be accomplished in time for the New York event, especially because all the world's major economies showed their support for the climate change deal.
Photo : Brew Books | Flickr