Climate impacts seen and experienced across Pacific Island likely to worsen after the latest IPCC report warns the world could surpass 1.5 degrees of warming in the next two decades

The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has revealed the devastating impact to Pacific Islands and communities if the world exceeds 1.5 degrees of warming, warning this threshold may soon be surpassed unless much stronger action is taken to reduce emissions.

The IPCC report, the most comprehensive research on climate impacts to date, warns that our current trajectory could see the world surpass 1.5 degrees of warming in the next two decades, causing sea level rise that will swamp low-lying island nations and cause widespread devastation and displacement. 

Pacific communities are highly vulnerable to climate change due to geographic factors and their climate-sensitive livelihoods. Every degree of global heating magnifies the climate risk to these communities and to ecosystems. 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific says deep, rapid emissions reduction, alongside a realistic and honest assessment of climate adaptation limits in the region, could help to save millions of lives threatened by climate catastrophe.

Maina Talia, climate activist and academic from Tuvalu, said climate impacts already being seen and experienced across Pacific Islands are likely to worsen, and called on urgent action from wealthy, high-emitting nations.

“Despite the continued warnings of Pacific leaders on the impacts of climate change, the latest IPCC report shows the world is due to surpass 1.5 degrees of warming. Pacific nations have contributed least to the climate crisis, but have the greatest impacts, including loss of ecosystems and a potential need for climate migration. 

“This matter now exceeds urgency. The IPCC report confirms what we are already seeing and experiencing. Expressions of concern, fear, or sorrow are inadequate at best, insulting at worst. We need action, and we need it now.

“Australia and other high-emitting nations must both reduce emissions now, limiting warming, and provide firm plans and finances to deal with the inevitable climate impacts in the region.”

Dr Alex-Edney Browne, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Research and Investigations, said Australia must urgently support its Pacific neighbours by making rapid, deep cuts to emissions and providing necessary climate finance.

“Every degree of warming makes a crucial difference to Pacific Islands and their communities. The Australian Government’s continued support of coal and other fossil fuels is playing a significant role in the expected exceeding of 1.5 degrees of warming. 

“While climate change has already caused widespread loss and damage in the Pacific, we can still help save our Pacific neighbours.

“The IPCC report shows maladaptation measures such as sea walls reduce impacts in the short term, but lock-in and increase exposure to climate risks in the long term. Most current adaptation measures address only short term, specific risks in a fragmented and reactionary manner. What is needed is transformational and long-term adaptation, and Pacific Islands need more climate finance in order to achieve that.

“The Australian government must significantly increase its climate finance for the Pacific. Between 2022 and 2025, we need to see an immediate increase, rising to $12 billion (US$8.7 billion) annually by 2026. This must be scaled up climate finance separate to the foreign aid budget rather than a reallocation of it,” she said. 

Shiva Gounden, an Australian-Fijian Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner, said that while this report is painful reading, Pacific peoples’ fight for their homeland continues.

“As a Pacific Islander myself, I don’t want to sugarcoat the fight we are up against. With these report findings, sometimes it is extremely heartbreaking and disappointing to know that what you may be fighting for inevitably may not be there to fight for. What’s even more saddening is that it is something that our families, communities and countries are least responsible for,” he said.

This was originally published at Greenpeace on 01 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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