Pacific islands are not passive victims of climate change, but will need help
As Prime Minister Tony Abbott attends the Pacific Island Forum summit today, attention has again turned to how the low-lying islands will deal with global warming. Pacific leaders have been highly critical of Australia’s post-2020 climate target.
A report released for the forum has argued that Australia’s approach threatens “the very survival of some Pacific nations” and is incompatible with limiting warming to 2C. Pacific leaders are calling for a more ambitious global limit of 1.5C above pre-industrial average temperatures.
Half a degree may not seem like much, but the latest scientific assessments indicate that evidence supporting the initial limit of 2C has weakened over the past decade. A goal of 1.5C may avoid some very high risks for small islands associated with 2C warming.
Failing to keep global warming to below a 1.5C increase is likely to put undue pressure on the Pacific island countries through more frequent climate- and weather-induced disasters, as well as speeding up inundation from sea-level rise.
Altered climate and weather patterns are already being observed in the Pacific region. These are expected to continue in the coming years, potentially changing the nature and frequency of disasters and their associated emergencies.
Cyclone Pam’s devastation of Vanuatu, catastrophic flooding in Kiribati and Tuvalu six months ago, and ongoing drought in Papua New Guinea serve as stark illustrations of what life in the Pacific islands may become amid future human-induced climate change.
For the complete article, please see The Conversation.