The representatives of four Pacific Ocean nations today used their addresses to the General Assembly to warn the world’s affluent countries to make sure they do not shirk their responsibilities in the global fight against climate change.
Speakers from Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Palau told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that their landscapes – with long coastlines exposed to rising sea levels – leave them in the front line of the global warming battle.
Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, said “we are very concerned to see certain industrialized nations attempting to avoid responsibility for their own carbon emissions and shifting the focus to developing nations.
“Only after industrialized nations take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions will the pathway become clear for lasting solutions. However, as developing countries we are willing to contribute equitably towards a sustainable future.”
The Prime Minister outlined a series of measures he said must be in place in the successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, which is due to expire in 2012.
Those measures include a new global framework dedicated to reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation, the scaling up of funding for developing countries as they adapt their industries to the impact of climate change, and commitments by wealthy nations to more aggressively cut their emissions.
Micronesia’s President Emanuel Mori said any global response to the various threats posed by climate change should feature the “provision of adequate and additional financing by the developed countries to the most vulnerable to assist us in coping with our adaptation and mitigation requirements.”
Small island developing States such as Micronesia have a pressing need for greater access to renewable sources of energy so they can move away from a dependence on fossil fuels, Mr. Mori said.
He stressed that a response to climate change will not be effective unless it is pursued “within the frameworks of the United Nations.”
Ludwig Scotty, President of Nauru, said it was unfair that small island developing States were among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change when they collectively contributed so little to the emission of greenhouse gases.
Although he joined the call for developed nations to do more to help poor nations to adapt, Mr. Scotty also said non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the rest of civil society in poor countries can cooperate more to build up capacity in the fight against climate change.
“Capital investments alone are not sufficient,” he said. “The need is to respond to the climate challenge with technology, skills and knowledge which are required to guide us.”
Palau’s Vice-President Elias Camsek Chin said the proposed reductions under a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol must be ambitious and quantifiable, rather than a set of general intentions.
Mr. Chin warned of the dire consequences if the world’s countries do not agree soon on an urgent programme of emission reduction.
“We are no longer in total control of our own destinies. When temperatures increase, our corals bleach, the seas rise, and the oceans acidify, threatening to demolish our marine biodiversity, jeopardizing our livelihood, and eventually destroying our identity,” he said.