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Pacific Island Nations Declare Climate Crisis, Fear Being Uninhabitable by 2030

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Pacific Island Nations Declare Climate Crisis, Fear Being Uninhabitable by 2030
The people of Kiribati are under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A group of Pacific island nations on Tuesday declared a climate crisis and said that developed nations, in particular Australia, have so far failed to take requisite action to avert the "grave consequences" their nations face, including the prospect of their lands being "uninhabitable as early as 2030."


The statements came in the Nadi Bay Declaration, which was signed by the leaders of Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Timor Leste and Tonga on the second of the two-day Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) Leaders' Summit hosted by Fiji.

The declaration drew praise from Fenton Lutunatabua, regional managing director of 350.org in the Pacific, who said the statement "makes clear that the current scale of the climate crisis calls for urgent action to phase out coal and other fossil fuels."

Among the demands of the document are a stop to all new coal mining; an end to fossil fuel subsidies; and for states to meet their obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to protect future generations by "prevent[ing] dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."

The declaration also calls on "those governments of high emitting countries that are hindering progress in climate change efforts to heed the climate science and urgently change direction for the benefit of all, including the people in their own countries."

Fossil fuel producers, the declaration adds, must abide by their "urgent responsibility and moral obligation" to stop development.

The Pacific nations also took a dig at Australia by calling on "relevant parties to the Kyoto Protocol to refrain from using 'carryover credits' as an abatement for the additional Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets."

As Australia's ABC explained,

Australia controversially counts some emissions reductions achieved during the past decade under the Kyoto Protocol towards reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

The carry-over does not breach the Paris Agreement because there has been no international consensus on the rules, but Australia's decision to count past emissions towards new targets has been widely condemned.

350's Lutunatabua, in his statement, suggested it was grassroots mobilization that drove the text's strong message.

"This visionary declaration," he said, "is a testament to the will of the Pacific people who have moved their politicians to show committed actions in confronting the climate crisis."

"The collective futures of Pacific peoples depends on us being able to push back against the fossil fuel industry fueling this climate crisis, and towards equitable and just solutions centered on people," said Lutunatabua. "This is what is at the heart of this important international statement."

Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at The Australia Institute, applauded the declaration, and pointed to its potential effect on next month's Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu.

The Nadi Bay Declaration, said Merzian, delivers "a powerful message to Australia … to lift their game on climate action."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Merzian predicted, "will struggle to sell a sensible and balanced approach to climate change when the Pacific have just declared a regional climate emergency."

Reposted with permission from our media associates Common Dreams.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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