Small Island Nations Demand More Emissions Cuts
Author: Anupreeta Das
A Fijian fisherman rows across the harbour in front of Fiji's capital city Suva as a storm approaches.
Photo: Tim Wimborne
UNITED NATIONS - This week's pledges by G8 leaders to cap increases in the world's temperature are insufficient, a group of small island countries that face potential catastrophe from climate change said on Friday.
The Alliance of Small Island States, a United Nations-based group of 42 island nations, called on the world's richest countries and major economies to take more concrete and ambitious steps to fight global warming.
The G8 countries and another 17-country group, the Major Economies Forum, agreed in L'Aquila, Italy, that global average temperatures should not be allowed to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by 2050.
"Two degrees of temperature rise is unacceptable," AOSIS Chair Dessima Williams told reporters at the United Nations.
If global temperatures increased that much, many island countries -- already vulnerable to hurricanes, cyclones and other adverse weather -- could get wiped off the map by rising sea levels, Williams said.
"The world has an obligation to ensure that no island is left behind," said Williams, who is also Grenada's ambassador to the United Nations. The group counts Barbados, Seychelles and Trinidad and Tobago among its members.
AOSIS is calling for emissions cuts in the short and medium term that would limit the temperature rise to "well below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels," Williams said.
The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that temperatures will rise between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius (2 and 11.5 degrees F) during the 21st century, depending on policies chosen by governments.
On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the L'Aquila summit that the countries represented needed to commit to more cuts to make an upcoming U.N. climate treaty work. The deal, due to be struck at a Copenhagen conference in December, is a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Ban urged the leaders at L'Aquila to work together to set specific goals, saying rich major economies were especially responsible because they emit more than 80 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.