- Date published:
9:57 am, November 4th, 2015 - 211 comments
Categories: accountability, climate change, disaster, global warming, International - Tags: climate change, pacific islands, paris talks, sea level
Pacific nations are in the front lines of climate change, and they are desperate:
Pacific islands make last-ditch plea to world before Paris climate change talks
‘Unless the world acts decisively in coming weeks, the Pacific as we know it is doomed,’ says Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama
At a summit in Fiji last week, the last major gathering of Pacific island nations before crunch UN climate talks in Paris next month, islanders thrashed out their collective plea to the world to help address the health impacts of climate change, particularly upon women, infants and adolescents.
Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Fiji’s foreign minister, said the country was dealing with the re-emergence of climate-influenced diseases such as typhoid, dengue fever, leptospirosis and diarrhoeal illnesses. Last year, a dengue outbreak in Fiji infected 20,000 people.
“We in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age,” said Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama.
“Unless the world acts decisively in the coming weeks to begin addressing the greatest challenge of our age, then the Pacific, as we know it, is doomed.
“The industrialised nations putting the welfare of the entire planet at risk so that their economic growth is assured and their citizens can continue to enjoy lives of comparative ease. All at the expense of those of us in low-lying areas of the Pacific and the rest of the world.” …
And what are the chances of the Paris talks taking significant action? Effectively nil:
World’s climate pledges not yet enough to avoid dangerous warming – UN
Analysis of plans put forward by nearly 150 countries suggests temperatures will reach just under 3C by the end of the century rather than 2C target
However, while the plans represent a significant advance on current trends, which would result in as much as 5C of warming if left unchecked, they are not enough in themselves to limit global warming to the 2C threshold that countries are preparing to agree on. This is widely regarded scientifically as the limit of safety, beyond which many of the effects of climate change – floods, droughts, heatwaves, sea level rises and more intense storms – are likely to become much more dangerous.
Some of the world’s poorest countries are unhappy with the 2C target, because they are likely to be most damaged by climate change – not least the small islands of the world, many of which may be swamped by sea level rises at 2C but have a chance of survival if emissions are cut further and warming limited to 1.5C by 2100.
Recall that the reduction commitments are “voluntary”, there are no consequences for missing them, and the world has an abysmal record of hitting previous voluntary reduction targets (RIP Kyoto). Recall also that NZ’s expected contribution to the Paris talks is so abysmal that environmental groups are asking us to stay away for fear of the damage that we will do.
How can we look our Pacific neighbors in the eye?