on 5th June 2014

Small Island States need climate justice, says CARE

On World Environment Day, aid agency CARE International welcomes the global focus on the climate change challenge facing Small Island States and calls for climate justice for people living in poor and vulnerable developing island nations.

Kit Vaughan, Director of CARE International’s Poverty, Environment and Climate Change Network said: “Climate change impacts are now threatening the very survival of many small island states and their inhabitants. With current, insufficiently ambitious commitments from powerful nations to take action to reduce their emissions, sea-level rise could reach one metre or more in the coming years, drowning many small islands and leading to loss of territory.

“This is a stark and growing global injustice, because the world’s poorest have done the least to cause climate change yet are now bearing the brunt of its impacts. CARE calls on the world’s governments and their citizens to ensure that the mounting risks facing small islands are used as a yardstick to measure international climate action – and to deliver climate justice by helping vulnerable communities adapt to climate impacts.”

Small Island States have long called for rapid and substantial global emissions reductions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. At the same time, many island states are already taking steps to rapidly increase their own use of renewable energies to reduce emissions and help build resilience to climate change. CARE strongly believes that rich, developed countries must do more to actively support these Small Islands which have shown real leadership when it comes to tackling the climate crisis.

Kit Vaughan said: “For many of the people CARE works with in the developing world, a stable, healthy environment ensures sources of income, food, and shelter. And for the very poorest, a rapidly degrading natural environment is literally a matter of life and death. We are already seeing how sea-level rise and heavier storms are undermining the food security of small island nations, for example when salt water from the oceans spills on to previously fertile land.”

CARE is already working with vulnerable communities in regions of the Pacific, including islanders on Nissan, a small coral atoll in the northeast of Papua New Guinea. With CARE’s help, men and women on Nissan, and neighbouring Pinipel, are learning new agricultural, water and food storage techniques and building skills to better prepare for disasters. Many families on Nissan have already built nurseries to trial new gardening and agriculture methods, and are sharing their knowledge and seedlings among their communities.

Kit Vaughan said: “In the face of an uncertain future, today’s World Environment Day is an opportunity for hundreds of communities around the world to share their knowledge and experience of tackling a changing climate. At the same time, governments need to step up and commit to ambitious emissions cuts and new resources to support massively scaled-up climate change adaptation measures. We want to see governments taking tangible action to ensure climate justice for vulnerable people living in small island nations – and around the world.”

Aerial view of Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands

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