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Pacific News Minute: Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Key to Paris Climate Talks

UNclimatechange / Flickr
UNclimatechange / Flickr
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Earlier this week, we reported that the Foreign minister of the Marshall Islands had been voted out of office. The final results came in as Tony De Brum participated in the UN Climate Change Talks in Paris. Neal Conan, who's in Paris covering the conference, reports that De Brum has emerged as a key figure in what may be his last hurrah - here's today's Pacific News Minute.

This week, Foreign Minister De Brum stepped forward as a spokesman for what's called the High Ambition Coalition: more than a hundred countries, big and small, rich and poor, developed and developing - including 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, the United States and all the members of the European Union.  At a news conference late yesterday, De Brum described the group as a cross section committed to a package deal that includes firm recognition of a global warming goal less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a clear pathway to a carbon free future, updates every five years and a hundred billion dollars per year for developing countries. "We will not trade off any of these elements for another", he said, "We will not accept a minimalist or bare bones agreement."

According to a report this week in The Guardian - the High Ambition Coalition started to form in secret six months ago and it identified Tony De Brum as "the Brilliant mind behind it."  While it's not a negotiating bloc per se, De Brum said a group that's now a majority here can act as what he called a Mosquito Fleet, sending envoys to various parties to "bite them in a nice way."

Many countries, including Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia object to various elements of the High Ambition Coalitions package, but at yesterday's news conference, US chief Negotiator Todd Stern declared, "This is our moment and we need to make it count."

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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