Pacific Island Nations Under Threat

By Kennedy Graham


Posted on July 14, 2009. Listed in:

Pacific island The New Zealand Government needs to take some regional leadership on the climate change crisis which threatens the very existence of some Pacific Island nations.

New Zealand Green Party MP Kennedy Graham believes that Prime Minister John Key  needs to set serious greenhouse gas emissions targets to help protect nations such as Kiribati and Tuvalu from rising sea levels.

"In this Pacific Year of Climate Change, Mr Key should use his Pacific tour to educate himself on the need for stronger climate change targets to stop rising sea levels from swamping some islands."

Dr Graham said Samoans realise the threat posed by climate change, with a week-long Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change workshop held in Apia just last week and an ongoing Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement Project investigating renewable energy sources such as windpower, hydropower and biofuels. Samoa’s target is to have 20 percent of its energy supply coming from renewable sources by 2030.

"Small islands bear a disproportionate burden from climate change. Our own Pacific region is at risk and New Zealand needs to take some leadership on this impending ecological crisis," Dr Graham, the Green Party’s International Climate Change Spokesperson, said.

Pacific islands 2 Dr Graham said the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) wants developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas concentration to below 350 parts per million. This is the level that current science indicates should avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

He calls on the New Zealand Government to set an effective 2020 target for emissions - at least 40 percent - before negotiations continue on an international treaty to replace the Kyoto agreement.

"I recently attended the first of the Government's public meetings on climate change. The message came through, loud and clear and virtually unanimously, from the 400 people present, that they wanted 40 percent cuts."

"In response, Minister Nick Smith displayed a modest style of leadership by stressing how difficult this would be, and by persistently misunderstanding the relationship between the economy and the environment. He still has some educating ahead of him, and perhaps the public meetings will help in that regard."

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