Drowning states call on leaders to aggressively address global warming

From: Sydney Morning Herald

Brendan Nicholson and Hamish McDonald in Cairns

August 7, 2009

THE
world has fallen well behind in the race to find a formula to deal with
global warming in time for December’s Copenhagen summit, regional
leaders have warned.

After their two-day summit in Cairns, 15
Pacific Islands Forum leaders issued a statement saying the threat was
grave and a strong global agreement was vital.

“With 122 days
to go, the international community is not on track to achieve the
outcome we need unless we see a renewed mandate across all
participating nations,” the leaders said.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the forum urged all nations to redouble their efforts to secure an agreement.

The
leaders called for a program that would set the world on a path to
limit the increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees or less and to
cut global emissions to at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The
forum nations are part of the Alliance of Small Island States, 39
nations in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean that are
likely to be the first – and worst – affected, by global warming.

The
alliance was set up in 1990 to provide a voice for small nations, and
it says that unless the increase in temperature is kept below 1.5
degrees the result will be disastrous for millions of people on those
islands.

Grenada’s representative to the United Nations and the alliance leader, Dessima Williams, told the Herald the impact on dozens of low-lying nations would be disastrous.

“We are going to have more devastation of all sorts from sea level rise and hurricanes,” Ms Williams said.

“We are going to lose our jobs, our food supply.

“The
world is going to see disruption that starts from the small island
states. It will be disruption of every sort, more health problems,
economic dislocation and more migration.”

As well as the
climate change plea, the 16 nations are to pool their experiences with
energy sources including solar, wind and wave power generation, with
Australia putting $25 million into the initiative.

The forum
leaders also agreed to pursue common development strategies fostered by
growth in the private sector, better state services and governance and
investment in infrastructure, and to get aid-donating countries and
organisations to co-ordinate their programs with these strategies.

The
Pacific Island countries receive the highest amount of foreign aid in
the developing world per capita, but Mr Rudd said many were not showing
progress towards the Millennium goals of greater welfare by 2015 and
some were regressing.

“It is a sobering fact that across our region some 2.7 million people are living in poverty,” he said.

Governments
in the Pacific were frustrated at the “spaghetti bowl” of aid programs,
Mr Rudd said, with half of their officials “offshore running around in
various programs being offered by dozens of competing and occasionally
conflicting development assistance programs”.

He hoped China would also align its aid programs in the Pacific – put at $US208 million ($247 million) in pledges last year.


Cross Posted from Rolph Payet’s  Climate Change and Sea Level Rise 

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