Daily Management Review

Climate Funding is the core issue for Pacific Islanders


The Pacific Nation states bear the brunt of global warming on a day-to-day basis. Their very survival is dependent on the details of the climatic funding by other nation states which is to be decided in Paris later this year.

Home to almost 10 million people, the Pacific Islands comprises of 22 territories and island states wherein 35% of the populace live below the poverty line. Estimates by the Asian Development Bank suggests that by the end of this century, climate change could end costing the region almost 12.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Although the Pacific Islands contribute just 0.03% of global greenhouses gases, they are however the ones who are most susceptible to global warming, because for them, it is not a conspiracy theory, nor is it a mental concept advocated by scientists which they are forced to gulp down. The Pacific Islanders see and feel the impact of global warming on a day-to-day basis. For them it is very real, for it threatens their very lives.

That is the reason why regional leaders have engaged their counterparts from the industrialized nations and have highlighted this injustice. The largest emitters of carbon are talking about niceties while sitting in their plush comfortable chairs, while their very lives is at stake. Polluting nations who spew out venomous poison gasses are yet to agree and implement policies that would limit the rise of global temperature by two degrees Celsius.

In the Marshall Island, for example, which is home to a population of 52,000, the rise in sea levels coupled with the increasing phenomena of natural disasters have jeopardized lives in this low-lying coastal belt. Recently, Cyclone Pam’s visit to the area left it completely devastated and having seen and felt its effect, regional leaders have renewed their urgent call-for-action, for a climatic fund, which they feel, will build some climatic resilience and arrest losses.
“The world’s best scientists, and what we see daily with our own eyes, all tell us that without urgent and transformative action by the big polluters to reduce emissions and help us to build resilience, we are headed for a world of constant climate catastrophe,” says, Christopher Loeak, Marshall Islands’ president.
Tony de Brum, Marshall Island’s minister of foreign affairs, was more vocal about his concerns. He said:
“It is reassuring to see many countries, including some very generous developing countries, step forward with promises to capitalize the Green Climate Fund. But we need a much better sense of how governments plan to ramp up their climate finance over the coming years to ensure the Copenhagen promise of 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 is fulfilled. Without this assurance, success in Paris will be very difficult to achieve. Climate disasters in the last year chewed up more than five percent of national GDP and that figure continues to rise. We are working to improve and mainstream adaptation into our national planning, but emergencies continue to set us back.”
In 2013 Marshall Island felt the effects of severe drought and massive tidal surges caused extensive flooding leaving hundreds homeless. Thus, their priorities have been to arrest coast erosion, reinforce and restore coastal shorelines, protect freshwater lenses and build climatic resilience.
“Like other small vulnerable countries, we have experienced great difficulty in accessing the big multilateral funds. The Green Climate Fund must avoid the mistakes of the past and place a premium on projects that deliver direct benefits to local communities. We do not need more consultants’ reports and feasibility studies. What we need is to build our local capacity to tackle the climate challenge and keep that capacity here,” emphasized Tony de Brum.

Marshall Islanders believe that tackling the problem of climate change requires that everyone works together harmoniously. For other participants of the Paris convention, the talks and the agreement may be about niceties pertaining to reduced emissions of green gases. For the Pacific Islanders, it is much more than that, for them, it a fight for their very survival.