World leaders told to show 'urgency' by leader of 'climate-vulnerable' Fiji
Fiji's prime minister has told negotiators "we must not fail our people" as he opened two weeks of talks on implementing the Paris accord to fight climate change, which is already affecting his Pacific island nation.
While diplomats and activists gathered in the German city of Bonn, the UN weather agency said that 2017 is set to become the hottest year on record aside from those impacted by the El Nino phenomenon.
The talks in Germany, the first major global climate conference since President Donald Trump announced that the US will pull out of the 2015 Paris accord unless he can secure a better deal, also mark the first time that a small island nation is chairing such a conference.
Negotiators will focus on thrashing out some of the technical details of the 2015 Paris accord, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
While Mr Trump has expressed scepticism, a recent US government report concluded there is strong evidence that man-made climate change is taking place.
Fiji prime minister Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama, the Bonn conference's chairman, offered greetings "from one of the most climate-vulnerable regions on earth" as the meeting opened, underlining "our collective plea for the world to maintain the course we set in Paris".
"The need for urgency is obvious," he said.
"Our world is in distress from the extreme weather events caused by climate change."
"We must not fail our people" and must make the Paris accord work, Mr Bainimarama said, adding that means to "meet our commitments in full, not back away from them".
He did not refer directly to the Trump administration's position, but appeared to play off Mr Trump's "America first" slogan.
"The only way for every nation to put itself first is to lock arms with all other nations and move forward together," the Fijian leader declared.