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Marshall Islands minister: 2015 climate agreement ‘a matter of life or death’



Small Pacific countries at increasing risk of sea levels rise caused by climate change have their survival depending on rich nations’ commitment to reach a global climate agreement in 2015 in Paris, the Marshall Islands’ minister of foreign affairs Tony de Brum has said.

Writing on the Guardian, Brum said that the most polluting countries –China and the US in particular – have no choice but to reach a final and strong agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, otherwise Pacific nations, including the Marshall Islands, could see the end of their existence.

For atoll island countries like mine lying less than two metres above the rising oceans, the ambition and architecture of the new agreement will play a big part in determining whether our countries survive into the second half of the century. It is quite simply a matter of life or death,” he wrote.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has told us, we need global emissions to approach zero by the middle of this century. In other words, national policies, and public and private sector investment decisions, must be based on the premise that the fossil fuel era is coming to an end, and the renewables revolution is here to stay.”

He added that science and technologies are already available to stop climate change, what is now needed is political action.

I’ve been a politician long enough to know that politics is the art of the possible, and that negotiation requires compromise. But on some things, like the future of my country, compromise is not an option.

“As I said to the big emitters meeting in Paris, the agreement we sign here next year must be nothing less than an agreement to save my country, and an agreement to save the world,” he concluded.

The Marshall Islands’ president said in September last year, in occasion of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). that climate change ‘had already arrived’. Meanwhile, another Pacific nation, Kiribati, recently bought some land on Fiji Islands to grow food and eventually host people if sea levels continue to rise.

Photo: stefan lins via Flickr

Further reading:

Pacific island Kiribati buys land in Fiji to escape climate change

Kiribati citizen seeks ‘climate asylum’ in New Zealand

‘Climate change has already arrived’, president of the Marshall Islands warns

Rising sea levels force Pacific Islanders to relocate

Swimming against the tide: the Pacific nations fighting a losing battle with climate change