UN urged to hold world leaders’ climate bash every five years

Marshall Islands president says heads of state need regular reminders about threat posed by global warming

Half a degree is a matter of survival for island states, but (Pic: Alson J Kelen)


World leaders would be compelled to attend a UN climate summit every five years from 2020, under plans published by the Marshall Islands last week.

It wants a regular repeat of the 2014 New York summit convened by Ban Ki-moon, which saw US president Barack Obama lead fellow heads of state in committing to a new climate pact.

The tiny Pacific island nation’s government believes it’s the best way of guaranteeing the freshly minted Paris Agreement delivers on a goal to steadily raise the speed of global carbon cuts.

“These summits should then become a regular fixture every five years as part of the Paris ambition mechanism as countries finish work on their targets for the next cycle,” said RMI president Hilda Heine.

“We all saw the impact the [2014] summit had when leaders are put on notice, countries join hands to act together, and civil society mobilizes behind them.”


Under last December’s Paris climate deal the UN will formally assess the state of climate action in 2018, ahead of a round of new emission reduction pledges expected in 2020.

But given current levels of greenhouse gas cuts are likely to see 3C of warming by 2100, Marshall Island government sources say a new round of deeper cuts is required before 2020.

“Whether or not the ambition mechanism is fully and effectively implemented will ultimately determine whether our island nation, and others like it, survive or perish,” reads the country’s submission to the UN.

Governments who refuse to consider new carbon targets post 2018 “threaten the very existence of our island nation” the statement adds.

The low-lying atoll country was one of the first to ratify the Paris Agreement, with ministers warning the nation faces severe droughts and inundation from rising seas in a warming world.

Read more on: Climate politics | COP22 | Pacific |