Marshalls’ DeBrum Calls For Immediate Action On Climate Change

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Marshalls’ DeBrum Calls For Immediate Action On Climate Change Majuro Declaration to be on agenda at Majuro Forum meeting

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, September 2, 2013) – The next five years will be the key to protecting Pacific islands from rising sea levels, said a leading Marshall Islands cabinet minister on the eve of the Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro.

"We need to protect the next 50 years (with action) in the next five years," said Minister in Assistance to the President Tony deBrum on Saturday in Majuro. "That’s the urgency. We don’t have the luxury of making these changes for the next 50 years.

If we don’t have something substantial going in the next five, the battle is halfway lost."

The Marshall Islands is promoting a Majuro Declaration on climate change leadership to be the signature outcome of the annual summit of Pacific heads of state.

DeBrum sees the declaration, that was given to all Forum delegations for review last week, as critical for a stepped-up campaign for action by the Pacific at the United Nations General Assembly opening in New York in September and at global-climate-change negotiations next year.

The Majuro Declaration will be on the leaders’ agenda during its meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.

The time of waiting for someone else to be the first to initiate control of greenhouse gas emissions is over, deBrum said. "It’s a survival issue for us and for the world," he said. "(We have to) try to convince the people who spew out this poison into the atmosphere to stop doing so. It’s not something that’s only going to affect small countries. When it gets to the point where we need to displace Marshallese it is already a threat to the world."

DeBrum said he is confident that Australia and New Zealand will take up the climate change leadership challenge the Marshall Islands has issued. "Australia and New Zealand must step to the challenge," he said. As Forum members, Pacific islands look to Australia and New Zealand for leadership, he said.

During the Post-Forum Dialogue session next Friday, Forum members will also push the United States and China, who he described as "the two biggest polluters," to make "more ambitious commitments" to reducing carbon emissions. "The Pacific Rim is the source of more than 60 percent of the world’s emissions and rising, so this is the key battlefield in the war against climate change," said deBrum. "It’s time for us to unleash a new wave of climate leadership."

DeBrum said the islands are looking ahead and hope to use a clear Majuro Declaration on climate change leadership to push for a binding global agreement by 2015.

The Pacific Islands Forum officially opens Tuesday afternoon in Majuro.

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