The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement this week drew a reaction from the Pacific Islands Forum, a group of 18 independent states and self-governing territories that are vulnerable to rising sea levels, displacement, and other impacts of climate change.
The U.S. was among the more than 100 countries that originally signed the accord. But earlier this week, the Trump administration notified the United Nations of its plans to withdraw from the agreement.
Kausea Natano, Tuvalu prime minister and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, on Wednesday said that the move will act to undermine American influence and credibility in the Pacific.
“In the Post-war period, America has often played a leadership role in supporting multilateralism and promoting a global rules-based system to enable collective responses to international problems. It is disappointing to see this ethos fade and falter when we need it the most,” he said.
Science is non-negotiable
“As stated in the Kainaki II Declaration made by Forum Leaders here in Tuvalu, the shared prosperity of our Blue Pacific continent can only safely exist if the international community pursues efforts to limit warming to 1.5°c, as set out in the Paris Agreement. The science is non-negotiable,” he added.
Natano said at a time when the Pacific finds itself the focus of strategic competition, he urges those governments involved to listen to the voice of the Blue Pacific and respect its collective will.
Tuvalu is the frontline of the climate fight. As a country, Tuvalu contributed the least to global emissions, according to Natano. But the island nation still does its part to implement the Paris agreement and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
Statements of friendship, expanded aid programs and high-level visits must be better backed by domestic policies and action to reduce emissions, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, in order to avert a climate catastrophe, according to Natano.
“As we have said often, if we save Tuvalu, we save the world”, Natano said.
The Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are members of the Pacific Islands Forum. The other members of the forum are: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.