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Alliance Of Small Islands Seeks Deeper CO2 Reductions

July 13, 2009

Sixteen leading nations gathered in Italy last week to set greenhouse gas-cutting targets, but the chair of an alliance of small islands said those reductions will not protect their tiny islands.

“The world has an obligation to ensure that “Ëœno island is left behind’” said Grenada’s U.N. ambassador Dessima Williams, chairman of The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

“It is a cruel irony that without adequate global commitments, the countries contributing least to global warming will be the ones most affected by its consequences,” she told the AFP news agency.

During last week’s summit, leaders of the Major Economies Forum (MEF), which includes the G8 nations along with emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, agreed to limit the rise in the planet’s average temperature to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over 18th-century levels. 

However, AOSIS wants the cap set at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Two degrees of temperature rise is still unacceptable, because it exceeds safe thresholds necessary for the protection and survival of small islands,” said Williams.

“For the smallest and most vulnerable among us, climate change is already here, causing damage,” she added.

The AOSIS also admonished the MEF for not providing specific details of how emissions would be reduced, and by whom.

The alliance called for several definitive goals, such as an 85 percent reduction in overall global CO2 emissions below 1990 levels by 2050 and a 45 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 among developed nations.

“Given the decades-long time lags between accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and changes in average temperatures, a mere temperature goal is insufficient,” Williams said.

“Targets need to be specific, measurable, quantifiable and defined by reference to the 1990 baseline emissions agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol.”

During the summit, the MEF pledged “to identify a global goal for substantially reducing global emissions” by 2050, but did now elaborate on how such reductions would take place, or among which nations.

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