Text calling for climate ambition will be presented to UN chief Ban Ki Moon at General Assembly in New York
By Ed King
Leaders of 13 Pacific Island countries acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels have released a statement calling for ‘urgent action’ to address climate change.
The 12-page document says governments in the region are committed to demonstrating ‘climate leadership’ and calls on countries to list ‘specific’ pledges to reduce pollution.
The ‘Majuro Declaration’, also signed by Australia and New Zealand, will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York later this month.
“The responsibility of all to act falls to every government, every company, every organization and every person with the capacity to do so, both individually and collectively,” it says.
The declaration was issued at this year’s Pacific Island Forum meeting in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro, which was briefly submerged by high tides in June this year.
At the request of the organisers EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, UK Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire and representatives from the USA and China also attended the summit.
The text underlines the intense frustration among leaders of small island states at the sluggish progress at the UN in cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists warn carbon dioxide levels need to peak this decade to avoid temperatures rising 2°C above pre industrial levels, which is considered to be a threshold of ‘dangerous climate change’.
The UN’s forthcoming IPCC climate science report is expected to warn that sea levels could rise between 29 and 82cm (11.4 to 32.3 inches) before 2100, levels which threaten the existence of some Pacific states.
In a statement Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said he hoped the declaration could be a “game changer” in driving talks on a global emissions reduction deal forward.
“We’ve had a strong meeting of minds here on the urgency of the problem, but the real work begins now,” he said.
“We need the rest of the world to follow the Pacific’s lead. I look forward to making that case during meetings with fellow Leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.”