Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Drowning states ask world to stop global warming

From: Sydney Morning Herald

Brendan Nicholson and Hamish McDonald in Cairns
August 7, 2009

THE world has fallen well behind in the race to find a formula to deal with global warming in time for December's Copenhagen summit, regional leaders have warned.

After their two-day summit in Cairns, 15 Pacific Islands Forum leaders issued a statement saying the threat was grave and a strong global agreement was vital.

"With 122 days to go, the international community is not on track to achieve the outcome we need unless we see a renewed mandate across all participating nations," the leaders said.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the forum urged all nations to redouble their efforts to secure an agreement.

The leaders called for a program that would set the world on a path to limit the increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees or less and to cut global emissions to at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The forum nations are part of the Alliance of Small Island States, 39 nations in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean that are likely to be the first - and worst - affected, by global warming.

The alliance was set up in 1990 to provide a voice for small nations, and it says that unless the increase in temperature is kept below 1.5 degrees the result will be disastrous for millions of people on those islands.

Grenada's representative to the United Nations and the alliance leader, Dessima Williams, told the Herald the impact on dozens of low-lying nations would be disastrous.

"We are going to have more devastation of all sorts from sea level rise and hurricanes," Ms Williams said.

"We are going to lose our jobs, our food supply.

"The world is going to see disruption that starts from the small island states. It will be disruption of every sort, more health problems, economic dislocation and more migration."

As well as the climate change plea, the 16 nations are to pool their experiences with energy sources including solar, wind and wave power generation, with Australia putting $25 million into the initiative.

The forum leaders also agreed to pursue common development strategies fostered by growth in the private sector, better state services and governance and investment in infrastructure, and to get aid-donating countries and organisations to co-ordinate their programs with these strategies.

The Pacific Island countries receive the highest amount of foreign aid in the developing world per capita, but Mr Rudd said many were not showing progress towards the Millennium goals of greater welfare by 2015 and some were regressing.

"It is a sobering fact that across our region some 2.7 million people are living in poverty," he said.

Governments in the Pacific were frustrated at the "spaghetti bowl" of aid programs, Mr Rudd said, with half of their officials "offshore running around in various programs being offered by dozens of competing and occasionally conflicting development assistance programs".

He hoped China would also align its aid programs in the Pacific - put at $US208 million ($247 million) in pledges last year.

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