Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership

Non-Aligned Movement has emphasised that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times, threatening not only the development prospects of developing countries and their achievement of sustainable development, but also the very existence and survival of countries and societies. NAM has expressed profound concern that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.

NAM has expressed concern about the increased adverse impacts of climate change particularly on developing countries, which are severely undermining their efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. NAM has also underscored the fact that developing countries continue to suffer the most from the adverse impacts of climate change, and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and the impact of response measures, even though they are the least responsible for climate change.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific are more vulnerable to climate change. Studies have shown that the small nations in the Pacific are vulnerable due to disasters caused by climate change. For example, in 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston affected 60% of the population of Fiji destroying 22% of the nation’s household and displacing 130000 people.

In 2015, Cyclone Pam caused damages equal to 64% of GDP of Vanuatu. Despite their limited resources and funds, SIDS are at the forefront at devising policies to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. One such recent initiative is the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership. The Partnership is a coalition of six nation governments of Fiji, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Out of these six, Fiji and Vanuatu are Member States of Non-Aligned Movement and share the ideals of NAM to combat climate change.

Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership was launched at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September 2019. The Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership, has set an emissions reduction target of 40% by 2030, and full decarbonisation by 2050. The coalition, as announced by David Paul, Minister-in-Assistance to the President & Environment Minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, intends to raise $500m (£400m) to make all shipping in the Pacific Ocean zero carbon by the middle of the century. Plans to secure the initial funds include domestic and international sources, including donor finance, concessional loans, private sector investment, and a planned Regional Blue Shipping Bond.

Funds for the Pacific Blue Partnership would be raised from grants from multinational institutions, concessional loans, direct private sector investment and through issuing regional “blue bonds”.

The Governments of Fiji and the Marshall Islands prepared a joint government briefing paper which found that, to date, “investment in the sustainable development of sea transport for Pacific island countries has been extremely limited.” The paper suggested a transition to a “sustainable, resilient and decarbonized sea transport at this scale will require substantial investment,” including at least USD 500 million to implement a ten-year work programme.

These funds would be spent purchasing and retrofitting low-carbon ships that combine local design innovation and international technologies, building resilient and low-carbon ports, investing in new renewable energy generation and energy supply chains for regional shipping, and supporting education and training, capacity building, and national policy reforms.

Transport is an integral component of the economy of Pacific Island States. Pacific island populations are dependent on shipping for travel, medicines, their livelihoods and connection to the outside world. Such countries are precariously dependent on imported fossil fuels and acutely vulnerable to price shocks or supply disruptions. The region imports 95% of its fuels. Imported petroleum accounts for an average of 40% of GDP in Pacific island countries, with the transport sector the largest fuel user. Thus, the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership is a noteworthy initiative by the SIDS in the Pacific to set up a regional cooperation mechanism for energy efficient and renewable energy technologies for the sea transport sector.

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