Small Island States & Climate Survival

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 12/14/2018 12:21:00 PM
Trying not to go underwater: Kiribati and company.
You sometimes have difficulty finding "good guys" at year-end UN climate negotiations. On one hand you have rich countries unwilling to cut emissions despite already being wealthy like the United States. They are largely indifferent to worsening the plight of poor countries which must bear the brunt of climate change, like those in sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, you also have developing countries that do not want to sacrifice anything to economic growth despite having among the world's most polluted cities on the face of the Earth. I'm talking about you, China and India.

But there are "good guys" here: Out of the sheer necessity of survival, small island nations at risk of being submerged by higher sea levels worldwide are leading the charge at climate negotiations to save them from literally disappearing off the map. Let's say their work is cut out against the likes of the United States--promoting coal at a climate conference, what a joke--and China and India who are quite callous to the plight of fellow developing countries. So much for third world solidarity...
The ongoing negotiations on how to implement the Paris Agreement aren’t going well. The world’s largest economies and top greenhouse emitters remain mired in decades-old arguments about who is responsible for addressing climate change and its impacts.

Now, a group of small island nations have stepped in to save themselves. Countries like Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands aren’t your typical geopolitical movers and shakers, but here at the United Nations climate change conference in Katowice, Poland these highly vulnerable countries have managed to reshape discussions with a simple but poignant reminder: if the world fails to halt global warming they may disappear for good.

“We are not prepared to die, and the Maldives have no intention of dying,” Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives told reporters in Poland. “We are going to do everything in our power to keep our heads above the water.”
They try, but the message sometimes falls on deaf ears:
To do that, these countries have launched a last-minute blitz to rouse higher-emitting and slower-moving countries to action. They are pushing their counterparts to demand a more aggressive agreement in a series of closed-door bilateral discussions. And they’ve launched a messaging campaign to signal that they will not let other countries off the hook if they hold back.
I am obviously sympathetic to small island states, but I do have to scratch my head about what kind of political leverage they can apply to get what they want achieved during these international talks. Literally, they are the smallest of fishes in a very big pond.