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Pacific Island leaders sound alarm on climate crisis, call for urgent action

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

New York (UN News Center) —Pacific island leaders collectively rang the alarm on the relentless march of climate change, marked by rising sea levels, extreme weather events and coastal erosion, wreaking havoc and threatening the very existence of their homelands.

Addressing the UN General Assembly last Thursday, Kiribati, Timor-Leste, Micronesia and Nauru called for accelerated climate action, urging major emitters worldwide to commit to substantial reductions in emissions by 2030.

These nations, while contributing negligibly to global emissions, highlighted bold ambitions to curb their own carbon footprints, exemplified by Micronesia’s pledge to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity generation by over 65 percent below 2000 levels.

The leaders also highlighted challenges ranging from poverty and quality healthcare, to harnessing technology and combatting corruption.


With “resilience embedded in their DNA,” they urged global solidarity to combat these pressing challenges and safeguard the well-being of their people.

Kiribati President Taneti Maamau emphasized the importance of rebuilding trust in multilateral cooperation and diplomacy, especially in a world facing geopolitical tensions, economic disparities, and unforeseen challenges like pandemics and climate-related crises.

He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the 2030 agenda and outlined programs to implement SDGs at the national level.

“To ensure sustainability and ownership of our desired developmental goals, we have engaged in extensive consultations at all levels,” he said.

Maamau also highlighted that as part of its commitment to global peace, Kiribati is working closely with the UN to engage its police in peacekeeping missions and that it will promote the empowerment of women and girls, as well as people with disabilities, elders, unemployed, youth and children.

“Enhancing prosperity is essential for sustaining peace and so the government is dedicated to people-centric principles, placing citizens at the center of our decisions and services, and promoting transparent governance,” he said.

Timor-Leste President José Ramos-Horta drew attention to the impact of rising temperatures in worsening conflicts and violence, particularly in vulnerable states.

“We need a new outlook on the climate and security nexus, which will address the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on peace, security and ensure that the quest for energy transition does not worsen the security situation in fragile countries,” he said.

Ramos-Horta pointed out that overseas development assistance has declined continuously since the 2007 subprime crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.


He highlighted that it would be a “leap forward” in international solidarity if OECD countries allocated 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product to overseas development assistance.

“We would see positive effects on poverty rates, food security, access to basic health services, education, electricity, drinking water, sanitation, housing and social security, with multiplier effects on the diversification of economies, especially in agriculture,” he said.

Federated States of Micronesia President Wesley Simina emphasized the Paris Agreement as a critical tool for addressing the climate crisis, although the current commitments under the agreement were insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C, a target crucial for small island nations like Micronesia.

He highlighted the importance of a “fast-acting mandatory approach,” modeled after successful environmental agreements like the Montreal Protocol, to cut methane emissions and other short-lived climate pollutants.

Simina stressed the need for major emitters, both developed and developing, to commit to substantial emission reductions by 2030, peaking by 2025, in alignment with IPCC recommendations.

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