Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Climate Change in the Pacific

Published on Monday, July 27, 2009 by The Telegraph/UK
Climate Change to Force 75 Million Pacific Islanders From Their Homes
by Bonnie Malkin in Sydney

A report by the charity Oxfam said Pacific Islanders were already feeling the effects of global warming, including food and water shortages, rising cases of malaria and more frequent flooding and storms. Some had already been forced from their homes and the number of displaced people was rising, it warned.

"The Future is Here: Climate Change in the Pacific" predicted that many Pacific Islanders would not be able to relocate within their own countries and would become international refugees.It urged neighbouring wealthy countries to take urgent action to curb their carbon emissions to prevent a large-scale crisis.

Half of the population of the Pacific live less than 1.5km from the coast and are incredibly vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather. But as well as moving out, the report found that some countries had started adapting to the changing climate.

Fiji is attempting to "climate-proof" its villages by testing salt-resistant varieties of staple foods, planting mangroves and native grasses to halt coastal erosion in order to protect wells from salt water intrusion, and moving homes and community buildings away from vulnerable coastlines.

In the Solomon Islands officials are looking for land to resettle people from low-lying outer atolls, and those living in the outer atolls of the Federated States of Micronesia were also moving to higher ground. The tiny nation of Tuvalu also recently pledged to become carbon neutral by 2020.

Andrew Hewett, Oxfam Australia Executive Director, said it was vital that Australia started working with Pacific governments to plan for the impact of climate change.

As the wealthiest country in the region and the highest per capita polluter, Australia "must prevent further climate damage to the Pacific by urgently adopting higher targets" - reducing emissions by at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 - and urging other developed countries to do the same, the report said.

The Australian government's commitment of $150 million (£75m) to help Pacific Islanders adapt to climate change needed to at least double, it said.

"It would be in Australia's interests to act now because, as the situation worsened, it would be called on to respond to more emergencies in the region," Mr Hewett told the Sydney Morning Herald.

With only months to go until the crucial UN negotiations in Copenhagen in December, Australia needed to show Pacific leaders it was willing to do its fair share to address one of the most pressing challenges in the region, he said.

"People are already leaving their homes because of climate change, with projections that 75 million people in the Asia-Pacific region will be forced to relocate by 2050 if climate change continues unabated. Not all will have the option of relocating within their own country, so it's vital that the Australian Government starts working with Pacific governments to plan for this now."

Pacific leaders will raise the issue of climate change with Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, at the Pacific Islands Forum on Aug 4.
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2009


Published on Thursday, December 10, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
Vulnerable Nations at Copenhagen Summit Reject 2C Target
Alliance of Small Island States say any deal that allows temperatures to rise by more than 1.5C is 'not negotiable'

by John Vidal in Copenhagen

More than half the world's countries say they are determined not to sign up to any deal that allows temperatures to rise by more than 1.5C - as opposed to 2C, which the major economies would prefer.
But any agreement to reach that target would require massive and rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions combined with removal of CO2 in the atmosphere. An extra 0.5C drop in temperatures would require vastly deeper cuts in carbon dioxide and up to $10.5 trillion (£6.5tr) extra in energy-related investment by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.
Holding temperatures to an increase of 1.5C compared to preindustrial levels would mean stabilising carbon concentrations in the atmosphere at roughly 350 parts per million (ppm), down from a present 387ppm. No technology currently exists to feasibly remove CO2 from the atmosphere on a large scale.

The temperature issue was starkly highlighted yesterday when Tuvalu, one of the world's most climate-threatened countries, formally proposed that countries sign up to a new, strengthened and legally binding agreement that would set more ambitious targets than what is presently being proposed. This divided G77 countries, some of whom led by China and India argued against it, fearing that it would replace the Kyoto protocol.
But they were supported by many of the vulnerable countries, from sub-Saharan Africa as well as the small island states, with passionate and powerful statements about the catastrophic impact of climate change on their people.
"Tuvalu has taken a strong stand to put the focus back on their bottom line. Nothing but a legally binding deal will deliver the strong commitments to urgent action that are needed to avoid catastrophe, especially to the most vulnerable countries and people," said the Oxfam spokesman Barry Coates.
Today the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), a grouping of 43 of the smallest and most vulnerable countries, including Tuvalu, said any rise of more than 1.5C was not negotiable at Copenhagen. They are backed by 48 of the least developed nations.

But the UN conference chief, Yvo de Boer, implied this morning that the proposal had little chance of being adopted. "It is theoretically possible that the conference will agree to hold temperatures to 1.5C but most industrialised countries have pinned their hopes on 2C," he said.
The 2C figure, which was included in the leaked draft negotiating text prepared by the summits host Denmark has emerged as the figure favoured by large economies and the likeliest to be adopted. But the poorest countries say that latest science implies that a 2C warming would lead to disastrous consequences – for example from sea level rise.
"We have two research stations, one in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean. They both suggest a rise of 2C is completely untenable for us," said Dessima Williams, a Grenadian diplomat speaking for Aosis.

"Our islands are disappearing, our coral reefs are bleaching, we are losing our fish supplies. We bring empirical evidence to Copenhagen of what climate change is doing now to our states," she said.
© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited

1 comment:

Josie said...

This is so interesting and timely because I'm going to Fiji this Friday to shoot pictures for Continental to use to promote Fiji as a travel destination. Continental is opening a direct flight from Guam to Fiji on December 18.


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