Pacific leaders call on the UN for more action on climate change

Pacific leaders call on the UN for more action on climate change

Pacific leaders call on the UN for more action on climate change

Posted 27 September 2013, 11:05 AEST

Leaders from the Pacific have urged countries at the UN General Assembly to step up their efforts to combat climate change.

Leaders from the Pacific have urged countries around the world to step up their efforts to combat climate change.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, the presidents of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Palau all asked for more support in dealing with rising sea levels

The President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, told the assembly his country faces certain demise if nothing is done to curb rises in temperatures.  

"Our global warming doomsday is already set in stone if we fail to act," Mr Remengesau said.

"It is therefore our job, as leaders, to take all necessary actions to eliminate the current threat.

"My country, along with other Pacific Island countries, is unwilling to even discuss a three degrees to five degrees temperature increase scenario by the end of the Century, for this will ensure our demise.

"We are also unwilling to discuss the issue of migration."

Our global warming doomsday is already set in stone if we fail to act.

The President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau

"Instead, we will continue to work with our developed partners to implement strong mitigation commitments and follow-through actions to hold the line on this increase to the more realistic 1.5 degree level."

Mr Remengau told the assembly response rising temperatures has been too slow, and there has been a failure to act on goals set by global community.

"Today it appears that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has stalled, that the Kyoto Protocol is on life support and that the Rio+20 Conference has not done enough to strengthen our three pillars of sustainable development," Mr Remengesau said.

"Our job as leaders is to re-invigorate our efforts by establishing real mitigation commitments and in identifying immediate, sufficient and long-term implementation financing."

"It is clear that what is needed today is leadership; leadership from the developed world and leadership from the developing world; leadership that focuses beyond borders and looks past today’s problems.

"In the end, leadership that creates a broad consensus vision to preserve our planet for tomorrow’s children."

Marshall Islands “already paying the earliest cost”

In his speech to the General Assembly, the President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, told the UN it was time for actions, not words.

"Simply repeating well-worn negotiation slogans will get the world nowhere. It is time for new solutions," Mr Loeak said.

"I strongly urge my fellow leaders to engage ‘eye to eye’ at the Secretary-General's climate summit next year; never has the need been so dire for true statesmanship."

Mr Loeak believes global efforts on climate change have been falling short.

"Low-lying island nations such as mine are already paying the earliest costs of what is fast becoming a global crisis. In every sense, the world must build for future risks, and too often, we are still setting course for current conditions."

"It is the seas that are rising - not the islands that are sinking."

Simply repeating well-worn negotiation slogans will get the world nowhere.

President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak

President Loeak told the Assembly the world’s biggest polluters need to follow in the footsteps of the tiny Pacific nations.

"The Marshall Islands is well on track to achieve complete solarisation of our outer islands, a goal we are meeting with the assistance from Japan's Pacific Environment Community funds, as well as assistance from the European Union, Taiwan, Italy, France and other donor partners," he said.

"The entire region is also aggressively cutting our own emissions through a Pacific New Energy Drive and the message for our partners, the world's largest emitters, is clear – if we can do it, so can you."

“The greatest moral challenge of our time”

Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong , says the world owes it to the next generations to act.

"I frequently find myself watching my grandchildren and wondering what sort of a future we are leaving them," Mr Tong said.

"For their sake, climate change is an issue that I will continue to talk about for as long as I have breath in my body. This is a critical issue for the survival of our people and for all of humanity.

"It remains the greatest moral challenge of our time"

In 1992 leaders gathered at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to discuss ways to tackle climate change and protect the environment.

Mr Tong told the Assembly that 20 years on, the earth is actually worse off.

The earth is not ours to do with as we please...We ignore this reality at our peril.

President of Kiribati, Anote Tong

"Whether or not we are willing to acknowledge it, climate change and sea level rise are a result of the unsustainable use of our planet's resources," he said.

Economic growth at all costs must not be our mantra, particularly when it is those who will benefit the least from this growth that will pay the ultimate price.

"The earth is not ours to do with as we please - we are merely trustees for future generations. We ignore this reality at our peril."

The president also says Kiribati is taking on measures to ensure the country is habitable for as long as possible, and is preparing for a future where the islands may not be able to sustain the population.

"We are looking to improve the skills of our people to a level where they are able to compete for jobs in the international labour market," Mr Tong said.

"We want our people to have the option to migrate with dignity should the time come that migration is unavoidable. And all the science is telling us that it is just a matter of time."