A group of former Pacific Island nation leaders that include former president Tommy Remengesau Jr. is calling for “urgent and rapid action to ensure that the global temperature does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” because of the “grim” threat to small island states. 

“The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) details a grim picture of the current and future impacts of rising temperatures, extreme events, and sea-level rise,” said the newly formed Pacific Elders’ Voice in a statement to world leaders at the Conference of Parties in Glasgow, Scotland (COP26).

The Pacific Elders Voice includes Hilde Heine — former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Remengesau Jr — former President of Palau, Anote Tong — former President of the Republic of Kiribati, Enele Sopoaga — former Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Dame Meg Taylor — former secretary-general of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and Robert Underwood — former Member of United States Congress and president of the University of Guam.

The Pacific elders also urged the G20 leaders to commit to a new Marshall Plan for Climate Change action to decarbonize the global economy and provide financial support to the most impacted by the impacts of climate change. 

“This week’s UN Environment Program Emissions Gap report concludes that current climate commitments are not ambitious enough and will only limit global warming by 2.7 degrees Celcius this century.

“These developments threaten the existence of our low-lying islands and coastal communities.

“Nothing less than the future of our nations is at stake.”

The former leaders also called on the G20 to commit to the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, saying the future of the Pacific depends on a renewable energy economy. 

The leaders also called on the major financial institutions to stop underwriting fossil fuels.

“We need finance and technology that is proven and tested to ensure our nations can survive.”  (B. Carreon) 

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