Island Nations, With No Time to Lose, Take Climate Response Into Their Own Hands

BONN, Germany — Fijian singers strumming ukuleles serenade delegates to the United Nations climate talks as they enter the conference hall. A traditional two-hulled sailing craft, or drua, is on display by the entrance to signify that when it comes to rising seas, all nations are in the same boat.

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Fiji, a sunny island nation in the South Pacific, is the official host of the climate discussions here in chilly Bonn. But leaders say their hopes that island issues would take center stage have mostly been dashed. Almost none of the measures to help their countries adapt to the impacts of global warming have been resolved, and few delegates say they are hopeful the final hours of talks will bring decisions.

Small islands also are among the smallest contributors to climate change, producing less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The industrialized world, their leaders say, owes some recompense for the disasters these vulnerable nations will suffer in the years ahead.

Two years after countries signed a landmark climate agreement in Paris, the world remains far off course from preventing drastic global warming in the decades ahead.

In the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, rising sea levels are causing salt water to intrude into underground fresh water supplies. In order to adapt, the country is trying to build rainwater cisterns and new pipe systems to ensure that its people have safe drinking water supplies.

While most wealthy countries agree in principle that they should deliver more aid, the details of how to do it have been bogged down in the slow bureaucratic processes of United Nations talks. On Friday delegates here did create an expert group to formally include the issue of helping vulnerable countries with immediate needs, known as loss and damage, in the United Nations climate process. There is no money attached to it, though, nor means to raise any.

We know. Global warming is daunting. So here’s a place to start: 17 often-asked questions with some straightforward answers.

Some island officials, frustrated by the slowness of the United Nations process, have decided to take matters into their own hands.

“We all know what the problem is. Why depress ourselves by sitting around the table and moaning about it?” Mr. Jumeau said. “Too many people are fixated on this government process. I’m going to where the money is.”

 

November 20, 2017

Sources:` New York Times

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