Pacific Islands Leaders Speak Forcefully For Climate Action

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Region bearing the brunt of effects; issue one of human rights

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 1, 2015) – Pacific Island nations have told the United Nations climate change summit in Paris they are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change.

They say for them, it's not just an environmental issue, but a human one which affects everybody.

The president of Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, spoke to the conference immediately after the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key.

"I address you, not only as a president, but as a father, as a grandfather, and as of a representative of a nation that lies just two metres above sea level. Everything I know and everyone I love is in the hands of us gathered here today."

Negotiators from 195 countries are seeking a deal aimed at reducing carbon emissions and limiting global warming to two degrees.

The president of Nauru, Baron Waqa, told members that after years of excess and willful ignorance, the climate bill has finally come due.

He says right now it is the smallest and most vulnerable who are paying that bill.

"Small island communities pay in the droughts that destroy livelihoods, and the record cyclones that steal lives. We see a small toll exacted every day as our shorelines are slowly eroded."

Mr Waqa says small island communities are among the first to pay the price of climate change, but no one will escape forever.

The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, told representatives they had a duty to make a genuine commitment.

"We believe to have an agreement that is inclusive that does not leave anyone behind, even when they are not represented here today. We would like the inclusion of everyone. We return to our people, our children and grandchildren with a clear answer that their future is safe."

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