Two boys stand in sea water that has flooded their village in Kiribati. Photo: Ciril Jazbec

Some islands may see large strips of territory disappear by the end of the century

By Jean Chemnick, ClimateWire on
9 November 2017

(E&E News) – The world's small islands have more to lose from runaway climate change than perhaps anywhere else on Earth.

Pacific and Caribbean islands have been battered recently by historically destructive hurricanes that endangered residents and stalled economic development. Cyclone Winston last year was the strongest storm ever to touch down in the Southern Hemisphere, while this September was the most active month on record for hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.

Sea-level rise is already eating away at low-lying islands and jeopardizing shoreline economic activity. And some, like the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Vanuatu, may see large strips of territory disappear by the end of the century.

"We live in different parts of the world, but the reality is that we're all threatened by climate change, and what really binds us together is the existential nature of the threat from climate change," said Selwin Hart, the ambassador of Barbados to the United States.

The risks to islands will be showcased on the world stage as delegates convene at the global climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, over the next 10 days. This year, Fiji has the presidency of the United Nations talks, and it's prioritizing the concerns of its residents in the South Pacific and other members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

These islands are united in forging a future despite dire scientific predictions. They've been the moral conscience of U.N. climate talks for decades, reminding reluctant nations of the damage they would feel if rising temperatures are left unchecked.

"People understood that this wasn't just about great nations, powerful nations, coming to an agreement," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who met with island leaders at the Paris summit two years ago. "This was about understanding that those most impacted by climate change are often in the weakest position to do something about it." [more]

Island Nations Urge Aggressive Action at U.N. Climate Meeting

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