The tiny territory of Tokelau is today leading a call by 14 Pacific island nations for the world to take action to stop climate change.
“We are not drowning, we are fighting,” said Mikaele Maiava, a spokesperson for 350 Pacific, a youth-led climate change action network.
The campaign kicked off with the Warrior Day of Action featuring demonstrations and protests that invoked traditional war songs and dances. Activists in Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati participated in events, according to 350 Pacific.
The campaign specifically targets fossil fuel use, which is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.
“We’ll be laying down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry,” said Maiava in a statement issued ahead of the protests. “It is their coal and oil and gas vs. our future. They cannot both coexist. And it is our future that has to win.”
Maiava noted that Tokelau turned off the last of its diesel generators last October.
“In their place, we switched on our solar plants, making Tokelau the first country in the world to become 100% renewably-powered,” Maiava wrote.
“I woke up before sunrise that day, excited about the history Tokelau was making. My whole village made its way to the site of over 100 solar panels — we could see the many hours of hard labor that had gone into this project. As we counted down to the switch, I could feel future generations smiling at us and thanking us. Our children’s future suddenly looked brighter because we had the vision (and perseverance) necessary to get off fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy.”
Maiava called on the rest of the world to do the same.
“We want to show the world that people from countries and cultures everywhere are standing with us — the Pacific Warriors — in the fight against climate change.”