Islands and African nations present toughest treaty yet to combat global warming

Jeremy Hance
December 09, 2009

Led by the small island state of Tuvalu, developing nations particularly vulnerable to climate change have put forward the most ambitious plan yet to mitigate climate change. Their move has split them from usual partners, such as China, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, who are concerned about the economic consequences of the proposal.

Tuvalu—an island nation particular vulnerable to rising sea levels—and its supporters have demanded a new treaty to run alongside the Kyoto protocol that would set the maximum allowable temperature increase to be 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead of 2 degrees Celsius rise usually put forth by developed countries and big emerging economies like India and China. In addition, they requested that atmospheric carbon levels be set at 350 parts per million (ppm) instead of 450 ppm.

"Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and our future rests on the outcome of this meeting," said Tuvalu negotiator Ian Fry said, according to the BBC.

Negotiations were put on hold until the new demands are considered and the issue resolved.

"This is the first time we've seen the island nations make such a splash," Malini Mehra of the India-based Centre for Social Markets told the BBC, noting how big emerging economies quickly denounced the demands.

The Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu is home to just over 12,000 people. It was joined in its new demands by the Cook Islands, Fiji, Barbados, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Cape Verde. For its action today Tuvalu won the first ever 'ray of the day' award for "actions to substantially advance progress in global climate talks". The award is given by the Fossil of the Day Awards, an organization that usually highlights countries that impede talks the most.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (December 09, 2009).

Islands and African nations present toughest treaty yet to combat global warming.