Pa­cific sum­mit hears con­cerns over cli­mate

Viet Nam News - - Asia -

KOROR, Palau -— A sum­mit of Pa­cific lead­ers have opened in Palau with a call for de­vel­oped na­tions to take ac­tion on cli­mate change and stop over­fish­ing the world’s largest ocean.

The host of this year’s Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum (PIF), Palau Pres­i­dent Tommy Re­menge­sau, said on Tues­day small is­land na­tions had ef­fec­tively be­come “the con­science of the world” on en­vi­ron­men­tal mat­ters.

“The ocean is our way of life,” he said at an elab­o­rate sun­set open­ing cer­e­mony fea­tur­ing club-wield­ing war­riors dressed in loin cloths and palm fronds.

“It sus­tains and nur­tures us, pro­vides us with the ba­sics of our Pa­cific is­land cul­tures, out very iden­ti­ties.” Re­menge­sau said the Pa­cific Ocean was “un­der siege” from pol­lu­tion and over­fish­ing, leav­ing mem­bers of the 15-na­tion PIF vul­ner­a­ble as many of them lie barely oneme­tre (three-feet) above sea level.

“We must recog­nise that the long term so­lu­tion to ocean warm­ing, ris­ing seas and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion is a big global cut in CO2 (car­bon diox­ide) emis­sion,” he said.

This week’s meet­ing seeks to main­tain mo­men­tum from the 2013 sum­mit in the Mar­shall Is­lands, where Fo­rum na­tions signed the Ma­juro Dec­la­ra­tion, com­mit­ting them to am­bi­tious tar­gets for cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions and adopt­ing re­new­able en­ergy.

Mar­shall Is­lands Pres­i­dent Christo­pher Loeak said it was an op­por­tu­nity to drive the mes­sage home once again ahead of a spe­cial UN sum­mit on cli­mate change in New York on Septem­ber 23.

“Cli­mate change must be front and cen­tre of the re­gional agenda,” he said.

While the small is­land na­tions that make up the ma­jor­ity of Fo­rum mem­bers have no con­trol over the in­dus­tri­alised world’s green­house gas emis­sions, they can in­flu­ence the di­rec­tion of Pa­cific fish­eries.

Re­menge­sau said it was time to take a stand against in­dus­tri­alised fish­ing in the Pa­cific, much of which is con­ducted by so- called “ dis­tant wa­ter” fleets from as far afield as Europe. —

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