Low-lying island countries have called on US President-elect Donald Trump to honour his country’s commitments under the Paris climate change agreement.
Mr Trump said during his campaign that he would cancel the agreement, which requires countries to submit non-binding climate pledges every five years, on the grounds that it “gives foreign bureaucrats control” over US energy use.
The possibility of a US withdrawal from the accord has overshadowed this week’s COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, where the implementation of last year’s agreement is being discussed.
Leaders of vulnerable countries warned about the dangers this could bring to them, and appealed to Mr Trump to have a “change of heart” on the issue.
Trump invited to visit cyclone-battered Fiji
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called on Mr Trump to change his stated position on the agreement, which he said would be “disastrous for every person on earth.”
“I want to make a special appeal to the President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, for a personal change of heart and a public change of policy on the issue of climate change.”
“Sir, you have said that you do not believe that climate change is man-made … I am especially alarmed by reports that you intend to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which would be disastrous for every person on earth.”
“I appeal to you to show the leadership that the rest of the world expects the United States to take on this issue.”
Mr Bainimarama also extended a formal invitation to Mr Trump, calling on him to “see for [himself]” the impacts of climate change.
Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, struck Fiji in February this year killing 44 people.
“Please come as a matter of urgency to see for yourself the devastating impact that rising sea levels and extreme weather events are already having on our peoples and on our way of life …
“President-elect Trump, I formally invite you to Fiji and promise you the warmest of welcomes.
“We will show you how we are already having to move entire communities out of the way of the rising seas and you can meet the families of the 44 Fijians who were killed last February.”
Warming targets a matter of life and death, leaders say
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Brown also called out Mr Trump’s climate scepticism.
“While my government offers congratulations to US President-elect Donald Trump and pledges our resolve to work cooperatively with his administration, we are however aware that he remains unconvinced on climate change.
“Those of us from small states live with a very different reality.”
“We know that global warming, sea-level rise, extreme jolts and stronger cyclones are daggers at the hearts of our existence.”
Marshall Islands’ President Hilda Heine said the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is a matter of survival for many Pacific nations.
“The survival of my island home is at stake.”
“We expect the continued leadership and engagement from all who led the way to Paris including the United States.”
“To achieve this ambition means fully implementing the Paris Agreement and the promises made by all countries and going further.”
More than 100 countries have now ratified the Paris agreement, including Australia following last week’s announcement.
The accord came into force last month and covers around 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the United States accounting for 15 percent of the world’s emissions.
Reposted from ABC News Australia, 16 November 2016