Mon, Sep 09, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Pacific bloc climate pact scores ‘major’ coup in US support

AFP, MAJURO

A new Pacific regional pact calling for aggressive action against climate change has made a “major accomplishment” by gaining US support, officials said yesterday.

The Majuro Declaration, signed by the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at its summit on Thursday, contains specific pledges on cutting greenhouse gases.

The PIF nations, some of which are barely a meter above sea level and risk being swamped by rising waters, have since received wide support led by the US after presenting the document to more than two dozen countries at a post-forum dialogue.

During the session, US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a new climate change fund called the Pacific-American Fund for islands in the region vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Separately, the US was offering US$24 million over five years for projects in “vulnerable coastal communities” in the Pacific, she said.

“It’s going to have wide-ranging impacts on every corner of our globe and that’s something that we are already seeing, particularly here as I flew into the airport and saw the sandbags from the last time the water inundated the runway,” she said.

Marshallese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tony de Brum said the US support was a “major accomplishment.”

“It will serve to convince those who are not convinced yet that it is a good thing to sign on to,” he said.

The EU, Britain, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia also expressed support for the declaration.

“The Majuro declaration is something we very much welcome,” British Minister of State Hugo Swire said. “When you come here and see the highest point on the atoll is the bridge that is about 3m above sea level, that brings it home pretty quickly.”

The declaration is to be presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly later this month.

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