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Planet Ark World Environment News Vulnerable States Team up for Tougher Climate Pact

Date: 16-Aug-09
Country: GERMANY
Author: Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

BONN, Germany - The world's poorest nations joined small island states on Friday to urge far tougher global goals for fighting climate change, saying their people were at risk from everything from droughts to rising sea levels.

The two groups, representing some 80 nations, formed a joint bloc to push for a goal of limiting world temperature rises to as far below 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) as possible as part of a new climate treaty due to be agreed in December in Copenhagen.

"Climate change is here, and already delivering damage," said Bruno Sekoli of Lesotho, chair of the least developed countries (LDC) group, mostly African nations. "Hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods are all on our doorstep.

"These impacts have the potential to threaten social and political stability and, in some cases, the very survival of low-lying island states," he told a news conference at the end of an August 10-14 session of U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn.

Last month, a group of 17 major economies, including the United States and China, agreed at a summit in Italy to seek to limit global warming to no more than 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 Celsius.

Small island states, which fear being wiped off the map by rising sea levels if Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets melt, adopted the 1.5 Celsius goal last year, arguing that 2 C was too much. The LDC group joined in backing the goal on Friday.

"This is significant. You have two major groups now agreed on the same target," said Kim Carstensen, head of the WWF conservation group's global climate initiative.

He noted a deal in Copenhagen to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol has to be approved by unanimity among more than 190 nations involved.

The two groups said the 1.5 Celsius ceiling meant rich nations should cut greenhouse gases by at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Average cuts promised so far by the rich total just 10 to 16 percent, they said.

"This risks taking us on a path to temperature increases in excess of 3 degrees above pre-industrial levels," said Dessima Williams of Grenada, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States. "Such a path would be catastrophic for all nations."

They also said proposals for aid to help developing nations adapt to the impacts of climate change were vague and far short of needs of up to about $100 billion a year.

"We've not seen one proposal on the table that will deliver the level of financing required," said Selwin Hart of Barbados.

(For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/)

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