Hilda: 1.5 to stay alive

President Hilda Heine speaks to COP23, the global climate summit, in Bonn, Germany.
President Hilda Heine speaks to COP23, the global climate summit, in Bonn, Germany.

President Hilda Heine urged nations of the world to pick up the pace of action to go beyond agreements reached in Paris in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions, while backing a Fiji climate initiative at the recently concluded global climate summit in Bonn, Germany.
“It is critical that every country delivers on the promises they made in Paris at COP21,” Heine told the summit. “This means all countries must put in place the domestic measures to implement their nationally determined contributions, while recognizing that some countries, like mine, will need help to do so.”
But, she added, even if every country implemented their promised reductions, “global temperatures would still increase by almost three degrees Celsius,” Heine said. “That would be devastating for us all. As a low-lying atoll nation, the Marshall Islands would be affected first and worst.”
The Marshall Islands and many other nations have promoted the goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“A two degree Celsius increase could result in sea-level rise of over five meters over the coming centuries,” she warned. “Only by limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius will sea-level rise be kept under one meter in the long run – vital to a nation no more than two meters in elevation and vital to all people around the world who live on the coast.”
This is why the RMI is backing a Fiji initiative known as the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue.
“The 2018 Talanoa Dialogue must be a political stepping stone to keeping global temperature increases to no more 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Heine said. “The Talanoa Dialogue needs to inform an increase of mitigation ambition by every country through new or enhanced nationally determined contributions in 2020. The UN Secretary-General’s Summit in 2019 must be the final step in this ‘arc of ambition’ and remain solely focused on this critical element of the Paris Agreement.”
If the world can achieve this increased pace of action, it “would be a fitting legacy for the late Tony deBrum, who fought so hard for the ambition cycle of the Paris Agreement, and Mattlan Zackhras who carried forward his torch of leadership.”

Read more about this in the November 24, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.