Marshall Islands vows to cut greenhouse gases

  • 20/07/2015
Marshall Islands vows to cut greenhouse gases

The Marshall Islands, a small island country at high risk of climate change-induced sea level rise, has vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third within a decade.

The sparsely populated cluster of Pacific atolls becomes the first small island nation to submit a carbon-cutting pledge ahead of a year-end conference in Paris tasked with producing a world climate pact.

It is also among the first developing country to commit to lowering - rather than merely slowing - the growth of CO2 output.

"We will reduce emissions by 32 percent below 2010 levels by 2025," Foreign Minister Tony de Brum told AFP on Sunday (local time).

"And we will aim for a 45 percent reduction by 2030. This is in line with our longer-term vision to move towards zero-net emissions by 2050."

In the overall effort to curb global warming, these are symbolic numbers.

The Marshalls, with only 68,000 inhabitants and virtually no industry, accounts for an infinitesimal percentage of the planet's carbon pollution.

At the same time, climate change is a life-and-death issue for dozens of small island nations and underdeveloped countries, especially in Africa.

"As a people and a nation, our very survival is absolutely threatened by the effects of climate change," de Brum said ahead of a 45-nation climate meeting of foreign and environment ministers starting in Paris on Monday.

"We want to make sure that the voice of the most vulnerable is heard in the process and taken seriously."

The low-lying Marshall Islands has been devastated in recent years by storm surges amplified by sea level rise as well as severe drought - impacts scientists say are consistent with climate change.