Small island states seek global fund
16 December 2010
CANCUN, Mexico — A group of 43 small island states called for a global insurance fund to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change.
Known as the most vulnerable nations to climate change, the small island states (called SIDs by diplomats) have been active during the conference in Cancun, calling for action and help from the international community.
“Apart from the adaptation fund from the Copenhagen summit, there should be a separate fund particularly for (small island states) in a targeted and dedicated way,” said Lakshmi Puri, director of the Office of High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
She said it is important to see the separate fund put into practice.
“The full support of implementation of this kind of fund is much needed, otherwise it will remain in paper,” Puri said.
Through the fund, least developed countries facing risks from the rising sea level would pay an annual premium, but the majority of the money would come from climate change aid provided by developed nations.
The money would be invested privately so that there are available funds in the event of a crisis.
Officials for the small islands nations said that their voices haven’t been heard by negotiators from major economies. Their worries over rising sea levels grow as many islands become more engulfed in water — a major impact caused by climate change and a major finding cited in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.
Ambassador Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, the Maldives permanent representative to the United Nations, told China Daily that “we contribute little to emissions but we face the danger of losing our country. We are put in a passive position and really need help”.
The tiny Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives comprises 1,000 low-lying small islands. To cope with the threat of the rising sea level, it announced that it aims to become a “carbon neutral’ nation by 2020 — an ambitious goal recently backed by the Geneva-based Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild, a private bank.
Tuvalu is in the same position. Only 4.5 meters above sea level, the Polynesian island nation is facing coastal erosion, which has resulted in the loss of homes and land.
Most of the island states also depend heavily on tourism, but many small-island state officials said the industry will have to be shied toward areas at higher altitudes. It will potentially bring a drop of 20 to 25 percent in the tourism sector, they said.
The Copenhagen Accord set a limit to increases in the global temperature to 2 C. But that has been questioned by many small-island states because this would still result in a significant rise in sea levels.
“We will have to move people from islands in danger to secure islands in the Maldives but the problem is there’s no secure island at this stage,” said Mohamed.
The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) says that the increase should be limited to 1.5 C. The 0.5 C difference means survival for small island states but it will require big compromises from major economies, which are difficult to achieve because it would require drastic reductions in global emissions. And big compromises, many environmental activists worry, won’t materialize in Cancun.
Antonio Lima, vice-chairman of AOSIS, said in Cancun that Kiribati, Tuvalu, most of the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives —reportedly a few meters above sea level — could disappear if no action is taken.
Craig Mokhiber, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, says that climate change has become a human rights issue, and it raises the question of self-determination — a core human rights principal.
“Climate change, and the measures adopted to respond to and mitigate, or, indeed, to exacerbate its effects, are not accidents of nature. They are in fact the result of choices made by governments and private actors,” he said.
“How will a nation express the will of its people, and ensure the protection of their human rights, when the very land on which the nation is built disappears from beneath them?”
Source: China Daily
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