Tuvalu PM: ‘Concrete action needed to save atoll nations


Wed 04 Sep 2013

Marshall Islands
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MAJURO, Marshall Islands — Cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions must start immediately to save low-lying islands, said Nauru’s ambassador to the United Nations speaking on Monday at a panel of climate experts here on the eve of the Pacific Islands Forum summit.

The European Union’s climate change commissioner told the panel the world is already late in dealing with the growing threat of climate change.

Nauru Ambassador Marlene Moses said it is clear that, “Greenhouse-gas emissions must be reduced now.” The goal of sustainable development should be to “provide everyone with the opportunity to live their lives with dignity,” Moses said. “That will simply not be possible in a rapidly warming world.”

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told the panel: “We need concrete action on the ground to save Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati.” All three are atoll nations, where most islands rise less than a meter above sea level.

The panel on climate change in Majuro was held as a run-up to the annual summit of Pacific Islands heads of state who meet from Tuesday through Friday under the theme, “Marshalling a Pacific response to the climate challenge.”

European Union Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard was one of more than a dozen high-profile attendees at the expert panel. She expressed concern that some countries may try to delay a 2015 deadline for implementing reductions in emissions and increasing reliance on alternative-energy sources.

“The world is already late (in addressing climate change),” Hedegaard said. “2015 must be taken seriously.”

She offered the unqualified support of the European Union to work with the Pacific to meet emission-reduction targets. “The EU will definitely do it in cooperation with the Pacific region,” she said.

Sopoaga said the issue of sea-level rise for his nation is “dire. There is no point in talking about sustainable development and post-2015 millennium development goals if we don’t deal with climate change.”

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