By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Sharm el Sheikh

With a history of being fought over bitterly in the last century, the Marshall Islands continues the next onslaught that the extraction of fossil fuels is unleashing.

The Marshall Islands were the testing grounds for the most destructive weapons ever known, and today the island nation is threatened by the rising seas caused by human induced climate change.

John Silk, Minister of Natural Resources and Commerce of the Republic of the Marshall Islands addressed COP27 during the High-Level segment telling the world that the actions of others, are having consequence on everyone, including the Marshall Islands.

Rising oceans submerging homes are also submerging the radioactive waste left behind from decades of nuclear testing. The Loss and damage from climate change impacts happening now are escalating faster and faster.

At the Twenty-Seventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Sharm el-Shekh, the Alliance of Small Islands States supported by the Pacific Islands, are calling for a Loss and Damage financial arrangement. Loss and damage is when the impacts of climate change exceed the ability for countries, communities and ecosystems, to adapt.

“Let me be clear. We didn’t want loss and damage funding. We didn’t want adaptation funding. We need it now, because the mitigation efforts we have been asking for decades have not been made. We now have a space to discuss these funding arrangements. We cannot afford further delay. It is time for a new, fit-for-purpose fund that provides finance as the tolls of this crisis rise higher,” said Minister Silk.

It is a commitment for this funding that Pacific Islands negotiators are hoping will be agreed upon at COP27. Just days away from the end of COP27, the lack of progress made on the fundamental agenda item of funding arrangements for loss and damage is of concern.

Photo: SPREP

“Until emissions are reduced to zero, the global temperature will continue to rise, and major emitters: you will continue to rack up a moral and financial debt to us. We want that debt to be as small as possible. For we would rather keep our homes than be forced to come to yours.”

“And while we atoll nations face a threat at a scale and speed that few others do, nowhere on Earth will be safe if we fail to stay within 1.5°C by peaking global emissions by 2025. It will not be safe if we fail to invest in resilience, starting with the doubling of adaptation finance, a show of solidarity in Glasgow that brought us hope.”

“But it is far from what is needed. The climate finance needed is in the trillions. And yet we live in a world in which there are individuals that hold more personal wealth than the annual commitment of climate finance promised by developed nations to those of us in need – US$100 billion, a promise that remains unfulfilled.”

Minister Silk called upon the world to use the solutions that are available, seeking partnerships and collaboration to help the Marshall Islands meet their Nationally Determined Contributions.The 2018 RMI Electricity Roadmap illustrates the path for the Marshall Islands to achieve this. Minister Silk also noted the potential to draw down emissions in high emitting sectors quickly such as through maritime shipping, whereby zero emissions can be reached by 2050.

“As one of the largest shipping registries in the world, we are calling for a carbon levy in the International Maritime Organisation, rising from US$100 per ton, that would actually give companies a reason to decarbonise – and provide a crucial source of revenue for developing nations.”

“We cannot escape the drops of water from melting glaciers, or the salt that seeps into our wells as king tides invade our wells. In this interconnected world, I ask you all to stand in solidarity with us, and to take the difficult and bold decisions that this moment in our history demands.”

“….all we ask for as a people, is a piece of the earth for our children and their children to call home.”

The Marshall Islands High Level Statement was made at COP27 on 15 November, 2022.

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022.

It is being attended by Pacific leaders and their delegations, who are advocating for their survival.