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New research found high levels of radiation in giant clams near a 42-year old nuclear waste site in the Central Pacific. The findings have scientists concerned that pollution from the site is leaving the enclosed structure and leaking into the ocean and the food chain, according to the Los Angeles Times.
By Joe McCarthy
The Enewetak Atoll is all but invisible on Google Maps. Halfway between Australia and Hawaii, the ribbon of land is home to a small indigenous population that has seen their way of life eroded by decisions far outside of their control.
For more than half a century, the atoll, which is part of the Marshall Islands, has been contaminated by nuclear explosions and waste, according to ABC Australia. The decades ahead could leave it submerged by rising sea levels.
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Leaders from some of the world’s most vulnerable climate countries have today adopted the Majuro Declaration calling for a “new wave of climate leadership” and marking the region’s efforts to accelerate action.
Issued at this year’s Pacific Islands Forum, which took place on the Marshall Islands, the declaration calls on countries to list specific, concrete pledges to reduce emissions and aims to accelerate the global response to the climate crisis.
The Pacific islands represent many of the countries most at risk by climate change, and they used the latest summit highlight the threats it places on security, livelihoods and the well-being of their populations, as well as those of other vulnerable nations across the globe.
Also signed by Australia and New Zealand, the declaration highlights the region’s own commitment to tackling climate change.
Speaking after the adoption of the Majuro Declaration, President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak said:
We want our Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership to be a game changer in the global fight against climate change. Forged on the frontlines of climate change’s devastating impacts, we hope it gives new impetus and accelerates the transition to the low-carbon economy.
We’ve had a strong meeting of minds here on the urgency of the problem, but the real work begins now. We need the rest of the world to follow the Pacific’s lead. I look forward to making that case during meetings with fellow leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.
As chair of the Pacific Islands Forum for the next 12 months, my absolute priority will be to fight for a safe climate future for my people, the Pacific region, and indeed the entire world. We must seize this moment, and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that a new wave of climate leadership takes hold.
As part of the declaration, Pacific island nations made their own pledges to combat climate change. For example, host country, the Marshall Islands pledged a 40 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—below 2009 levels—and 20 percent indigenous renewable energy by 2020.
Tuvalu and the Cook Islands both pledged to supply 100 percent of their countries’ energy by 2020, while Paupa New Guinea pledged to become carbon neutral before 2050.
They also highlighted the intense frustration felt by many island nations over the sluggish progress of other countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
A post-forum dialogue will now take place to encourage the 13 dialogue partner countries—including the EU, the U.S. and China—to sign on to the declaration, and submit their own climate commitments, ramping up action both in the Pacific region and globally.
The declaration will then be presented to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during this year’s General Assembly Leaders’ week, taking place in New York this September.
The Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership
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