Small island nations and coastal states are on the frontlines of global
warming: as temperatures and sea levels rise, some countries could be
lost entirely. Scientists and politicians have gathered in the
Indonesian city of Manado for the World Ocean Conference to discuss
ways to reduce the damage from climate change.
Life and death issue
inhabitants of small islands, climate change may be a matter of life or
death. Rolph Payet, an advisor to the president of the Seychelles, says
that in his country, rising sea levels will be catastrophic.
the Seychelles for example we have 90 percent of the people who live on
the coastline. This is where all the infrastructure is, where the
housing are, all the communication, shipping, the airport is there. So
it's as if you have to start the whole community from scratch, and
that's going to cost a lot of money. We're always the ones losing out,
and it's always the same people winning," said Payet.
What role do seas play in global warming?
and government officials from around the world are meeting this week in
Manado, Indonesia, at the World Ocean Conference. They hope to work
together to better understand the role of the seas in global warming,
and reducing its effects.
For small island nations, the problem
is called the climate divide. Rich countries emit the most greenhouse
gases, which are thought to contribute to global warming. But it is
mostly poor, developing countries that will pay the heaviest cost of
Dessima Williams, president of an association
that represents 44 small island nations, says that rich countries
should not turn a blind eye to their fate.
are on the frontline, as small island states, we are going to get the
brunt of it first .... But everybody is getting some of it. So we are not
taking a high moral ground, we are simply taking a practical position
that is: 'we are first [to suffer from global warming], but yours is
coming. So you address ours, you reduce yours.' It's common sense," said
Environmental refugees could be huge concern
Rolph Payet says that the world should be wary of
the creation of millions of potential "environmental refugees" - people
who will have to flee as the seas rise above their homes.
change will have a huge impact on world security," said Payet. "I mean,
you can just imagine: most of the world's cities and capital are built
along the coast! So what we're dealing with today in Iran or
Afghanistan may be peanuts compared with what will happen from a great
mobilization and a great migration of thousands of people who live by
Small island nations are asking that stricter carbon
emission caps be in the agreement that will replace the Kyoto protocol
on climate change. But it is not clear that larger nations will agree
to cut enough to slow global warming. They hope to find common ground
in December in Copenhagen where the world will discuss the future
policies on climate.