By Anders Lorenzen
Prince Harry, the younger brother of the heir to the throne Prince William, has warned about the threat of climate change to the island nation of Fiji.
It seems that the prince has taken a leaf out of his father, Prince Charles, book; the Queen’s first son frequently warns about the dangers of climate change.
On a visit to Fiji, a former British colony which consists of 300 islands, Harry addressed the young crowd of university students from the University of South Pacific and warned the risk climate change presents to the lives of Fijians.
“One of the greatest challenges is undoubtedly climate change, and all of you living here are confronted with this threat in your daily lives,” the prince said. He picked up on the frequent extreme weather events the Islanders have to endure: “You’re actually experiencing changing weather patterns, ferocious cyclones and rising sea levels, particularly in places such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, and you’ve been living with this for many years, way before the world actually started talking about it.”
The remarks by the prince come just a few weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued one of the strongest warnings of climate change to date, and encouraged tougher actions to combat climate change.
On a global scale, sea levels have risen by about 26cm since the 19th century and that has implications in Fiji as more than 40 villages have had to be moved to higher grounds. The economic damage caused by climate change-fueled extreme weather events is also considerable for the archipelago state. As recent as in 2016, Fiji was hit by Cyclone Winston; killed 44 people and caused economic damage worth $1.4 billion which equated to a third of Fiji’s GDP.
The prince had chosen to address the students as he was announcing four Commonwealth-funded scholarships for climate change at universities in Fiji and the Caribbean.
This year Fiji holds the presidency of COP23, the UN’s climate change conference, before handing it over to Poland which will host it this year, COP24. Low-lying countries like Fiji are amongst the countries most vulnerable to climate change. And the state will be hoping for an increase in ambition in the wake of the latest UN climate report when governments meet in Poland later this year.