Paris (AFP) – The Marshall Islands, a small island country at high risk of climate change-induced sea level rise, vowed Sunday to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third within a decade.
In a pledge to be officially filed with the UN next week, the sparsely populated cluster of Pacific atolls becomes the first small island nation to submit a carbon-cutting pledge ahead of a year-end conference in Paris tasked with producing a world climate pact.
It is moreover among the first developing country to commit to lowering — rather than merely slowing — the growth of CO2 output.
p>"We will reduce emissions by 32 percent below 2010 levels by 2025," Foreign Minister Tony de Brum told AFP.
"And we will aim for a 45-percent reduction by 2030. This is in line with our longer-term vision to move towards zero-net emissions by 2050."
In the overall effort to curb global warming, these are symbolic numbers.
The Marshalls, with only 68,000 inhabitants & virtually no industry, accounts for an infinitesimal percentage of the planetâ€™s carbon pollution.
At the same time, climate alter is a life-and-death issue for dozens of small island nations & underdeveloped countries, especially in Africa.
"As a people & a nation, our very survival is absolutely threatened by the effects of climate change," de Brum said ahead of a 45-nation climate meeting of foreign & environment ministers starting in Paris on Monday.
"We want to make sure that the voice of the most vulnerable is heard in the process & taken seriously."
The low-lying Marshall Islands has been devastated in recent years by storm surges amplified by sea level rise as well as severe drought — impacts scientists say are consistent with climate change.
As a members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), The Marshalls want the global temperature rise to be capped at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-Industrial Revolution levels, rather than the 2.0 C threshold embraced by the 195-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Paris agreement will be supported by a roster of voluntary national CO2-reduction pledges, yet commitments submitted so far suggest that even the less ambitious goal is in doubt.
"With most of the huge emittersâ€™ targets now on the table, everyone knows we are falling well short," de Brum said.
"Our message is simple: if one of the worldâ€™s smallest, poorest & most geographically isolated countries can do it, so can you."
China, the United States, the European Union & Japan â€“- which together account for more than half of global CO2 emissions â€“- have already published their targets.
Projected sea-level rise & enhanced storm surges, even under optimistic greenhouse gas emission scenarios, may force the inhabitants of some island nations to relocate before the end of the century.
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