Small islands plead for action at UN climate talks

KATOWICE, Poland, Ministers from nations imperilled by rising seas and temperatures on Tuesday called for drastic action at UN climate talks deadlocked over a refusal by big polluters to embrace landmark environmental data.

The COP24 summit in Poland is scheduled to finish at the end of the week

but delegates are still worlds apart when it comes to agreeing on a rulebook

making good on the promises nailed down in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Tuesday saw ministers begin to put forward their country's case for action,

with several from small island states threatened with oblivion pleading for


We all need to act now and fast, but I must stress it requires a strong

political will by us leaders, said Taneti Maamau, president of Kiribati in

the Pacific.

The Paris deal committed nations to limiting temperature rises to well

below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and beneath the safer cap of 1.5C

if at all possible.

But in the three years since, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to

rise and there are fears the political will to act is waning.

The talks were thrown into tumult over the weekend when the United States,

Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked a proposal from 44 small island

nations for the UN body to welcome a recent UN report that drew the

starkest climate picture to date.

Unveiled in October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

special report concluded that CO2 emissions must drop a quarter within 12

years to stay under 2C, and by nearly half to cap warming at 1.5C, seen as a

safer guardrail against catastrophic extreme weather.

The four nations disagreed with the motion, and proposed that the UN

climate body simply note the report, rather than welcome it.

'We can avert disaster'

This added yet another hurdle to the already painstaking negotiating


A draft summary of the concluding COP24 text seen by AFP suggests nations

acknowledge the report and/or its quality and invites them to use the

information in the report far from what the atrisk countries are


US President Donald Trump, who said last month he did not believe his own

government's climate change predictions, has said he will renege on the Paris


But the US is still part of the UN climate process as its prestanding

commitments last until 2020.

Without naming any of the four holdouts, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry

Puna accused some nations of not willing to accept the stark realities

outlined in this report.

The situation was so sensitive that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

made an unscheduled return to the talks on Tuesday as he was concerned about

how the COP was going, a UN source told AFP.

Science has provided unequivocal evidence to prove we can avert this dire

situation and achieve a 1.5C scenario for our planet but we need selfless and

visionary leaders with the political courage and conviction to act together

now, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told delegates.

Patricia Espinosa, the UN's climate chief, said Tuesday that many

political divisions remain.

Addressing ministers during a plenary session, she added: Each one of you

has the power to finish what you were sent here to do. This is the time for

concensus, for compromises to be reached for the good of all people.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)