Climate change is putting many small island nations in a desperate position and America’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement is making the situation even more dire.
Small islands have already sunk into the Pacific Ocean, and rapidly rising sea levels are putting many more islands at risk. Among those threatened are developed islands that have unique cultures and traditions that could vanish along with the land.
As the second largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, emission cuts by the United States would make a huge impact on the state of global warming. The decision by Donald Trump to leave the climate pact came as a blow to countries worldwide, but the concern may be felt most deeply by small island and low-lying coastal countries.
In 2009, world leaders created a climate policy that aimed to prevent global warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius. It was also determined the ideal temperature cap would be at 1.5 degrees Celsius, particularly for those living in areas at the mercy of the sea.
According to the Associated Press, “When Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris treaty, scientists said that made the 2 degree goal close to unachievable and the 1.5 degree goal even more out of reach. Promised American pollution cuts were about one-fifth of the pledged global reductions hoped for in the accord.”
Kenrick Leslie, executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, told the Associated Press, “We are pushing the 1.5 (as a goal) but realistically I think we have passed the point that it can be achieved.” Leslie said Trump’s withdrawal from the climate agreement has “thrown it right out the window.”
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is an alliance of small island and coastal nations that face the same challenges of global climate change. Their campaign is called “1.5 to stay alive.” Amjad Abdullah is the AOSIS chief negotiator.
“Already, at just one degree of warming, our small island states are feeling the effects of climate change – deadly, and life-altering impacts – and they will only get worse as the world warms. Our future depends on everybody accepting that 2 degrees is too much for us,” said Abdulla.
The current state of global warmth is causing major issues for island states as it is. Extreme tropical storms, coastal erosion, seawater intrusion, and marine habitat deterioration may cause irreparable damage regardless of the future of global warming.
With the odds mounting against them, island leaders still remain hopeful. Global climate goals are encouraging, despite the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Treaty.
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told the Associated Press, “I cannot give up on my people and my country and my culture. It’s very important for us to be optimistic.”
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer
Source: Associated Press