Marshall to push Forum for major effort of cut greenhouse emissions | Pacific Beat

Marshall to push Forum for major effort of cut greenhouse emissions

Marshall to push Forum for major effort of cut greenhouse emissions

Updated 2 September 2013, 8:04 AEST

Marshall Islands message to the world on climate change is simple: if we can do it, so can you.

The Marshalls have fully converted their outer island communities to solar energy cutting their greenhouse gas emmissions by almost 40 per cent.

Climate change will be a main focus of the Pacific Islands Forum which begins next week in Majuro.

Marshall Islands president Christopher Loeak has proposed the Forum adopt the "Majuro Declaration" calling for an urgent phase-down of greenhouse gas emissions.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Christopher Loeak, President, Marshall Islands

LOEAK: These are critical time as far as we think in terms of climate change issues and we wanted to highlight that issue to our Forum leaders, so they can take it more seriously and help us, actually now, Marshall Islands is one of four atolls and nations in the world and is vulnerable to rising sea level and other natural catastrophes.
COUTTS: What in particular, when you're talking about climate change will be concentrating on, what issues will you raise that you'd like the rest of the regions leaders to know about?
LOEAK: Our intention is to have a Majuro Declaratioin on climate change leadership. They will be several political dynamic people that will seek the support of all the Forum countries as climate change is an issue that is very serious to us in the Pacific. We do among ourselves as far as showing leadership is concerned, but we can also project to the world that is and ensure that the whole world has to give serious consideration to.
COUTTS: What else will be on the agenda for the forum in addition to climate change?
LOEAK: Well, one of the main things that will be talked about in the forum is the Pacific Plan review, which we're waiting for Sir Morauta, head of the review team, to come and report to the leaders and we'll take it up when the forum meets. And the other one is the issue of Fiji coming back to the Forum.
COUTTS: Do you support Fiji coming back to the F orum?
LOEAK: I think we're all hoping that they come back sooner than later. We'll also learn more about it from this Ministerial Contact Group that will also submit that report to the leaders during our Forum meeting.
COUTTS: Now, the Pacific Plan Review for Sir Mekere Morauta is fairly insistent that they're be changes to the forum. Would you support that and if there are changes, what changes would you like to see?
LOEAK: Well as I said, we have not set the full report yet in saying that he will come and talk to us and hear what we have to tell him and then he'll finalise his report and that's when we will know all of the report. Yes, in giving briefings and we will be waiting to hear the full effort, the whole report when it's completed.
COUTTS: Now Mr Loeak, one of the things that have been called for is more leadership from Pacific Island countries to try and combat climate change. Do you think that the leadership has been poor in this area?
LOEAK: Well, we think that all the effort so far has been insufficient and we want these thing to be the signature outcome of our meeting here in the Pacific Islands Forum. We also intend to present it to the United Nations, to Ban Ki-moon, as our contribution to his hosting another climate change meeting this year.
COUTTS: And have Australia and New Zealand done enough? Are they doing enough?
LOEAK: Well, we're hoping that they will be our leaders in this as they're bigger countries and as far as a country like Marshall Islands is concerned, we are very insignificant as far as contributing to the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So we look to New Zealand and Australia as our big brothers here in the Pacific to do their part. We think they would not let down their brothers here in the Pacific and see them go by the way side, as a result of climate change impact.
COUTTS: Mr President, you've already mentioned Marshall Islands has a number of low lying atolls. Is the day coming that you will have to move some of your communities, because the water is too high and is taking over their villages?
LOEAK: Well, recently we have experienced some drastic events. As you know, the northern part of the Marshall Islands was affected by a long drought, which was really hard on the people living in the northern part of the Marshall Islands. How the well wells that they're depended on over the years to get their water during drought, became salty and they could not use the water from those wells and food crop also died as a result of dry season.
And in the south, we were inundated with water that came over the islands, including the capital here in Majuro which breached out sea wall at the airport causing the airport to be closed for almost a whole day.
COUTTS: Is the drought over?
LOEAK: The drought is over now, but we're expecting years down the road to be more severe, as far as that drought is concerned.
We're doing preparation and mitigation projects prepare for those kind of drought if they come. We don't know what's will happen next year or the year after that, but we tend to have longer drought nowadays than we had before.
COUTTS: And will you also take the opportunity to show off Marshall Islands culture to all the leaders who'll be visiting?
LOEAK: Yes, recently, we've been quite busy trying to prepare ourselves to welcome our visitors and friends from the Pacific and elsewhere who will come to the Forum. We will try to showcase our culture that is one of the things that we'll during this Forum.

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