Failure on a Copenhagen Climate Treaty Is a Security Risk, Pacific Islands Tell UN General Assembly
16 November 2009 (New York) - Concerned about threats to their security, a group of Pacific island developing nations took the floor of the UN General Assembly today to demand adoption of a legally-binding treaty at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December.
Speaking on behalf of the 11 vulnerable small Pacific islands
represented at the UN, Ambassador Stuart Beck from the island nation of
Palau stated that "flimsy moral sentiments at Copenhagen are no
substitute for legally-binding treaties and do little to ensure the
security of the most vulnerable among us."
Rejecting recent calls made by some of the world's biggest polluters for
a delay in taking decisive and legally-binding action on climate change,
the Pacific Island states told the 192-member world body that the
political choices for Copenhagen have already been outlined in
According to Ambassador Beck, "the choice before leaders at Copenhagen
will be if the global community has sufficient political will to ensure
our security through legal instruments with serious, specific action on
emissions by all nations, or if we will fail ourselves and future
generations" by delaying decisions and risking prolonged deadlocks.
UN member states were told by a recent report by UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-Moon that climate change poses specific security risks to
vulnerable countries. .
Ambassador Beck highlighted that climate-related relocation has already
happened in the Pacific and that entire nations might disappear, stating
that"we are talking about the survival of nations, people and unique
cultures." Some Pacific island nations, including Tuvalu, the Marshall
Islands and Kiribati, are only one or two meters above sea level, and
the UN report confirmed that climate change impacts pose a serious
threat to their statehood
On behalf of the Pacific small islands, Palau Ambassador Beck noted that
"the linkage between climate change and security needs to be a permanent
focus of deliberations" at the UN, including examination by the Security
Council. In June this year, the Pacific island nations spearheaded the
adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution recognizing the security
implications of climate change.
Also addressing the UN, Ambassador Collin Beck from the Solomon Islands
registered "deep concern from public statements" seeking to lower
expectations for concluding a legal instrument at the Copenhagen
meeting, stating that "those on the frontline will continue to suffer on
a daily basis as we continue to postpone action," and that global
leaders "keep having summits on climate change, and yet we have not
lived up to what we have said."
The Pacific islands are part of the 43-member Alliance of Small Island
States, which ended recent climate talks in Barcelona with a call to
conclude binding legal instruments at Copenhagen. The island states
have called for global warming to be limited to well below 1.5 degrees C
above pre-industrial levels. However, large polluters, through the
Major Economies Forum, support a 2 degree goal, which would risk
substantial impacts to vulnerable nations.
Ms. Nanette Woonton
Associate Media and Publications Officer
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)
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