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Small islands call on countries to accelerate climate action

on May 16, 2016

“The solutions to climate change are more cost effective than ever and success stories for effective action abound. The only question is whether we join together quickly and boldly enough to avoid catastrophe.” -Thoriq Ibrahim

BONN, Germany–At the opening of the United Nations climate change conference, the first since the international community reached the historic Paris Agreement last year, Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy for the Maldives and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), released the following statement on behalf of the  coalition of 44 small island and coastal states that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change:

“The first round of climate change talks since Paris, like so many others have before, opens against the backdrop of extreme climate impacts across our membership: Cyclones Ula, Winston, and Zena wreaked havoc in the South Pacific earlier this year; Severe droughts in parts of the Caribbean and the Western Pacific continue to cause water and food security crises; A massive coral-bleaching event has turned reefs bone white across the tropics; And scientists have confirmed the loss of 5 islands to sea level rise in the Solomon archipelago—showing climate change is now infringing on sovereign territory.

“It is no accident that several of our members were among the first to complete their domestic ratification processes for the Paris Agreement and we urge all countries to follow suit so that we see its early entry into force.

“The diplomatic community has expressed how seriously it takes climate change. Now we have to turn this political momentum into action at home.

“But even if all countries fully meet their nationally-determined contributions, we would still be on track for warming of close to 3 degrees, which is well in excess of the 1.5 degrees goal agreed to in Paris. This would spell catastrophe for our members and, indeed, the rest of the world as well.”

“We must work expeditiously at this session and in the lead up to Marrakesh to facilitate the rapid scaling up of climate action. The work done at this intercessional meeting to support the implementation the Paris Agreement is of paramount importance.

“At the same time, the financial support developing countries need to make the transition to renewable energy and adapt toclimate impacts is well short of the $100 billion per year pledge and UNEP’s recent Adaptation Finance Gap Report reminds us that the total finance for adaptation in 2030 would have to be approximately 6 to 13 times greater than international public finance today. We simply cannot solve climate change without adequate support. We look forward to the action required to fulfill the promises made.

“The solutions to climate change are more cost effective than ever and success stories for effective action abound. The only question is whether we join together quickly and boldly enough to avoid catastrophe.”

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