No more hot air: Pacific voices call for action on climate change

1 September 2014

No more hot air  

Pacific voices call for action on climate change

**For Immediate Release**

Apia, Monday September 1, 2014: As the world’s eyes turn to small island countries this week, Pacific voices are calling for serious action to avoid dangerous climate change.

Representatives from more than 100 countries are gathered in Apia, Samoa, for the United Nation’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  The meeting is a once-in-a-decade chance for small island states to highlight their unique development challenges.

Speaking from Apia, convenor of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) Shirley Laban said world leaders need to take action now if Pacific island countries are to have any hope of avoiding potentially catastrophic climate change. 

‘Unless we cut emissions now, and limit global warming to less than 1.5°C, Pacific communities will reap devastating consequences for generations to come’, said Ms Laban.  ‘Developed countries need to reduce their emissions as soon as possible, and must make far stronger commitments than those currently on the table’.

Her comments came as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, called for world leaders to come together in New York (September 23, 2014) with bold new commitments.

Ms Laban said the international community needed to follow the example of Small Island Developing States.  ‘Pacific islanders are strong and resilient, and we are adapting to the changes we are already experiencing,’ said Ms Laban. ‘We are also leading the way by taking action to reduce our emissions today.  Leaders from all States must use this historic opportunity to inject momentum into the global climate negotiations, and work to secure an ambitious global agreement in 2015’.  

A key organisation within the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network is the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC).  PCC’s climate change campaigns officer Peter Emberson, also in Apia, said the international community needed to provide greater funding for climate change adaptation.

‘It is time for the polluters to put their money where their mouth is’ said Mr Emberson.

‘Pacific islanders have lived in a sustainable balance with our environment for countless generations, growing our own food and relying on resources from the sea. Now, because of pollution we are not responsible for, we are facing catastrophic threats to our way of life.’

Mr Emberson said wealthier nations needed to provide adequate, additional and predictable financing to help Pacific communities adapt to a changing climate. 
‘Global funds – such as the Green Climate Fund – must be accessible to Pacific island governments, communities and civil society organisations, said Mr Emberson. ‘Because communities are at the frontline of climate change, more support must be allocated to community-based adaptation measures’.

Both Mr Emberson and Ms Laban said there were already likely to be impacts island states cannot adapt to.

‘Even if drastic action is taken now to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, island countries are likely to experience losses and permanent damage associated with climate change,’ said Ms Laban.  ‘Countries responsible for emitting greenhouse gases must address the impact of their pollution.  Toward that end, loss and damage mechanisms must be written into the text of a global agreement to tackle climate change.’

Pacific island countries are already among the most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Every year island states face climate-related hazards like prolonged droughts, devastating floods and intense cyclones.  Climate change looks set to increase the risks.

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated small island developing states are likely to face changing rainfall patterns, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching.  Coastal communities are likely to experience stronger storm surges, increased erosion and inundation as sea levels rise.  Salination is likely to compromise groundwater resources.

About PICAN:
The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) brings together civil society actors in Pacific island countries advocating for climate justice.  PICAN is a regional network of the global Climate Action Network (CAN-International).
Picture Capition: A global agreement needed now: PICAN convenor Shirley Laban, with UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres


– Ria Voorhaar, Head – Global Communications Coordination, Climate Action Network,  + 49 157 317 35568, 
– In Apia, Shirley Laban: +685 7297617 or Peter Emberson +685 7291464.  

Both Shirley Laban and Peter Emberson are available for interview


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