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South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP)

4 June 1999

Delegates from six Pacific island countries are attending an international climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, to make sure the conference recommendations include specific measures that will let them adapt to climate change and sea-level rise.

The meeting of the technical and scientific advisory bodies to the Climate Convention will spend the next fortnight discussing aspects of the science of climate change, and how the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol can be implemented. Recommendations from these meetings will be forwarded to the Fifth Conference of Parties to the Climate Convention, to be held in Bonn late this year.

South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) International Negotiations Officer, Dr Mahendra Kumar, who is attending to provide Pacific island countries with technical and scientific advice, said Pacific island countries were already experiencing changes in sea level and climate.

"In the Pacific, the impacts of climate change are already manifest as coastal degradation, and as extreme events such as floods, storm surges, more severe cyclones, and droughts," Dr Kumar said. "The key issue for Pacific island countries is to advance international agreement on effective measures that will let them reduce the impacts of these changes, and start planning for greater future changes," Dr Kumar said.

Pacific island delegates would be arguing strongly for agreement on ways in which the developed world could transfer environmentally friendly technologies to developing countries, thus letting them reduce their own emissions and adapt to climate change and sea-level rise. They would also be insisting on receiving training in how to maintain any new technology.

Pacific island delegates will also ensure that industrialised countries are keeping to their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the Bonn meeting, developed countries are expected to be more interested in developing the detail of proposals such as emissions trading, which would allow them to meet their commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

However, Dr Kumar said Pacific island delegates were concerned about this focus, fearing it could be used to allow developed countries to continue to increase their own domestic emissions, while trading off emission reductions they made possible in other countries. "The Pacific knows that there need to be much greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than the world has so far agreed to," he said.

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has said that to stop global warming and climate change, reductions in the order of 60 – 80 per cent are needed. Any emissions trading or other measures aimed at reducing global emissions should be on top of countries’ commitments to reduce their own domestic emissions by the much lower Kyoto Protocol target of 6.5 percent global reductions by 2020."

For further information contact Jan Sinclair at SPREP: (685) 21 929

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