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Pacific News Minute: Polynesians Stand Together Against Climate Change at UN Summit

Brian Glass / Flickr
Brian Glass / Flickr

This past weekend, a summit of Polynesian leaders issued a declaration on the threat of climate change and agreed on a set of demands to be presented to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris at the end of the year.  More from Neal Conan, in today’s Pacific News Minute.

The joint declaration asks the international community to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century to provide financial support to implement adaptation solutions, and to establish a fund to compensate victims of climate change.  The generally recognized target for global warming is 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, and most scientists are skeptical that it can be achieved. And, so far at least, most rich countries oppose a compensation fund.

In recognition that some islands may be lost to sea level rise, Polynesian leaders also asked that current exclusive economic zones be permanently fixed.  While many areas around the world are threatened by sea level rise, only Small island nations stand at risk of losing their entire territory, none more so than Kiribati, the former Gilbert Islands.  

Earlier this month, President Anote Tong confirmed the eight million dollar purchase of 20 square Kilometers on the Fijian Island of Vanua Levu as an agricultural reserve. Soil on the low lying islands of Kiribati is increasingly contaminated by salt.  Fijian Prime Minister Frank Baininarama reiterated his offer to take in the population of Kiribati if necessary.  President Tong noted that Fiji is the only country to offer his people a refuge and said it gives them hope that humanity still exists in the world.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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