Tokelau highlights Energy and Climate Change programmes as donors commit $1.5billion to Pacific

Te Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa attended the Pacific Energy Conference in Auckland earlier this week. The high profiled event, co-hosted by New Zealand and the European Union (EU), saw donors commit an estimated $NZ1.5billion dollars to sustainable energy projects in the Pacific islands region.

In claiming a share of the $1.5billion pool, Tokelau advocated for its Energy and Climate Change programmes in order to continue its global leadership efforts in renewable energy.
The Pacific Energy Summit - Leaders meeting earlier this week
However, it was not a straight-forward pitch for Tokelau due to its political status as a ‘territory’ of New Zealand, a status that blocks direct access to the majority of funding opportunities. But on the other side, New Zealand’s cent
ral role in the event meant Tokelau proposals had an extra advantage, according to te Ulu o Tokelau.

“I have every confidence that with New Zealand’s support behind our energy and climate change funding proposals that we will have good outcomes – and that is very important to the people of Tokelau,” he said.

“With the clean sustainable energy priority outlined by everyone, from New Zealand and EU as co-hosts; to the complementary position of donors such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, I am looking forward to Tokelau fast tracking its energy and climate change activities to meet our goals.

“Already we have shown we can do this. Tokelau did not by accident become the first Pacific country to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy generation. It took a lot of negotiations and hard work to get us there – and we want to maintain and improve that momentum.”

That commitment saw his personal participation to lead the delegation, giving the energy and climate change programmes every chance to gain funding injections for the next three-year cycle. However, key details and outcomes of the conference will be made available after the Ulu has presented his report to Council.
Te Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa and the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Murray McCully
Te Ulu o Tokelau paid special acknowledgement to New Zealand’s role in driving and organizing the conference on behalf of the region.
“The important role of New Zealand and foreign affairs minister Mr Murray McCully must be acknowledged in this. If it wasn’t for their efforts in securing a partnership with the European Union to give this conference a global profile, then this NZ$1.5billion collective injection to the region would not have eventuated in this equitable manner.

“That is why this conference was a very important event for Pacific countries,” he emphasized.

“We are one of the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, so the sooner the world moves away from fossil fuels to clean energy, the more chances we have of saving our islands and way of life.”

He highlighted that Pacific countries are leading the world in transitioning from fossil fuel dependence to clean energy generation. And he is confident the Pacific will continue to raise the bar as long as funding resources are made available to implement the strategies and activities.

In Tokelau’s case, prior to 2012, diesel generators were the only source of power. In 2012, under the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project (TREP), a total of almost 1 MW of PhotoVoltaic (PV) was installed in hybrid mini-grid systems “We are fully committed to the transition because our existence depends on it. We have developed our strategies; we are committed to the goals set in those strategies, and we have enacted the appropriate laws to allow the projects and activities to go ahead. So the only thing holding us back are the resources, the money, to fund those project activities,” he said. On each of the atolls. Solar PV now supplies in excess of 90% of all electricity.
“For Tokelau, the funding we’re asking for will not only move us closer, but also more quickly, to our goal of 100 per cent reduction in fossil fuels by 2030. On the climate change front, it will allow us to develop our Climate Strategy, one that is strategic, that is outcomes-based, and to future-proof Tokelau against climate change impacts.”

At the end of the conference, Mr McCully announced the latest investments will help Polynesia achieve more than 50 percent renewable energy by 2024, and will also provide access to electricity for an estimated 1 million people in Melanesia; and other countries to double their renewable energy generation.

Mr McCully added that as the ambition of partners grows, the future looks bright for more funding resources flowing into the region.
“With the growing role for the private sector and the prospect of access to the UN Green Climate Fund there should be significant potential to further expand our efforts in this area.”

As well as the EU, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank Group, other investors included Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia.

The Tokelau delegation headed by Ulu-o-Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa included: Acting Administrator of Tokelau, Ms Linda Te Puni; General Manager of the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office, Mr Jovilisi Suveinakama; Mr Robin Pene (Energy Director), Lealaiauloto A.F. Tauafiafi (Climate Change), and Ms Maria Clayton (NZ Foreign Affairs).
The New Zealand-Tokelau Bilateral discussions with te Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa and Minister Foreign Affairs, Mr Murray McCully.

Contributed by Lealaiauloto Aigaletaule’ale’a F Tauafiafi, 10 June 2016. Photos: Tokelau Government