Pacific climate warrior says ‘call fossil fuel industry out’

Pacific youth climate champion Suluafi Brianna Fruean has likened her first time in the United Nations building to primary school.

"It was my first time being in the [UN] General Assembly space," Suluafi said.

"I sat there and I was watching everyone and it kind of reminded me of a mock UN we did when I was in primary school."

But not in a jovial sense, she was seriously reflecting on the lessons she was taught as a child by her teachers.

"The three main lessons they always told us; be kind to your classmates, your neighbours, clean up after yourself, and be careful with your words."

The lesson that was front of mind though was the importance of words - a lesson she hoped was dancing in the minds of the world leaders taking the floor.

And at the Climate Ambition Summit last week, the word 'ambition' was underscored.

"Yet [climate ambition is] not something we saw from everyone, including the US Head of State who was not present," Suluafi said.

However, nations that did demonstrate ambition were Chile and Tuvalu, who named the "culprit" of the climate crisis; fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal.

Suluafi said it is critical those words are spoken in these spaces.

"How can we talk about the fight against climate change if we are not naming who we are fighting?"

"Words are important. It is words that literally can mean the sinking or the surviving of our islands."

Suluafi wants to put to bed a "big misconception" perpetuated by the western world.

"Pacific Islanders don't want to move," she stressed.

"The western world will tell us that climate change is an opportunity for us to come and live in the West.

"We don't want to live here!"

For years [Pacific] elders have said that they "will go down with our islands", she said.

Suluafi went on to say Pacific people live in reciprocity with the land.

"We are the land.

"Let's call a spade a spade. Let's call the fossil fuel industry out and let's save my islands."