28 Jun 2013

Marshalls to galvanise action on climate change at summit

5:03 pm on 28 June 2013

The hosts of the Pacific Islands Forum summit - the Marshall Islands - say they want a new surge of political commitment and international leadership to deal with climate change.

The cabinet minister responsible climate change issues, Tony de Brum, says they hope a new wave of leadership emerges at the summit.

He says they are planning for a Majuro Declaration to galvanise more urgent and concrete action on the issue.

TONY DE BRUM: As you know, for some time now, the small island developing states have been making noise about how these effects of climate change are beginning to impact not just their economies and their general community living, but their own survival is being challenged at this moment. We did not plan for the Northern Marshalls to have a severe drought this time of year, nor did we plan to have to have the flooding that's been inundating the island of Majuro in the last few days with saltwater from the south. But these are all, I guess I could call it, a microcosm of what happens to small island states when the water rises and severe droughts such as we're experiencing occur. And we were thinking, because we had set the theme for the forum to be marshalling the resources of the state against climate change impact, we thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity for our metropolitan partners to see what we're talking about and to actually hear from people directly affected. What do we need from the big countries? We need their commitments to actually put their money where their mouth is, to not just say they're going to do something about climate change, but also to do something about their commitments to keeping the level of warming that the world has figured we can all handle - namely, 2 or 2.5 degrees and no more.

DON WISEMAN: Among the metropolitan people you want there, you've invited John Kerry. Have you had any feedback on the possibility of him coming?

TDB: No, we have not. Although we're working very diligently. I spent some time in Washington myself, visiting our friends and asking them to support this request. It's important that the United States is represented at at least that level, considering in the Cooks Mrs Clinton showed up. This being the so-called 'American Pacific' (Laughs) it's important that Mr Kerry comes to the meeting, at least from our point of view. It's the United States and China that need to make a political commitment for anything realistic to happen in climate change management. And we think at that level you would probably attract somebody of equivalent status or at least close to that from China for the post-forum dialogue, giving our declaration more foundation, giving our platform a little bit more of visibility to the world, so that we can issue our challenges to our developing partners, as well as to our own Pacific states.