Expect worsening impacts of climate change - IPCC

Posted on 07 April 2007
Countries in the Pacific are already experiencing serious impacts of climate change. In a report released on April 6 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the vulnerability of countries to climate change, and examines the consequences of this vulnerability on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, disasters, livelihoods and the environment.

The above report, titled “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Report of Working Group II of the IPCC” states that communities in the Pacific will be severely impacted by rising sea levels and changes in rainfall and temperature patterns that will affect agriculture, water supply and health and livelihoods in the Pacific.

“The Pacific is at the forefront of climate change. Low lying countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati are already experiencing rising sea levels, the Marshall Islands are currently facing a severe drought and coastal erosion in Fiji, American Samoa and Tuvalu are damaging crops and coastal infrastructure.” - Ms. Jyotishma Rajan, Climate Change Campaigner at WWF South Pacific Programme.

The IPCC highlights climate change impacts that will make the Pacific less attractive as a tourist destination. These impacts include coastal erosion, which will include tourist beaches and resorts. Invasion by non-native species in the higher islands, due to higher temperatures, will threaten the existence of native species.

In addition, the report predicts the water resources in the Pacific will be seriously compromised, while sea level rise and increased storm surges will cause great damage to coastal infrastructure and resources, putting a tremendous strain on already vulnerable Pacific Island countries.

The report highlights the urgent need for countries around the world to put in place measures that will build the resilience of people, livelihoods, economies and the environment against the impacts of climate change. More importantly, it highlights the need for developed countries to reduce their emissions of climate changing gases as a matter of priority.

“Pacific Island governments, through their membership of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), must work hard to achieve a binding global agreement that ensures developed countries rapidly reduce their emissions of climate changing gases and put aside sufficient funds to enable highly vulnerable countries (like those in the Pacific), to adapt to climate change.” - Ms. Ashvini Fernando, Coordinator of the WWF South Pacific Climate Change Programme

In addition, Pacific Island governments must lobby Australia and the USA to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The two countries are the only developed countries that have not ratified this global agreement to reduce their emissions of climate changing gases. This despite the USA being the highest emitter globally, and Australians (per person) being among the highest emitters of climate changing gases, says WWF.

“The climate change crisis threatens resources, livelihoods, economies, cultures and survival. This global problem requires a global solution. The world needs to act NOW to prevent this crisis reaching dangerous levels.” says Ms. Fernando.

For further information:

Ms. Ashvini Fernando, Coordinator,
WWF South Pacific Climate Change Programme,
Tel: +679 331 5533
E-mail: afernando@wwfpacific.org.fj

Ms. Jyotishma Naicker, Climate Change Campaigner,
WWF South Pacific Programme,
Tel: +679 331 5533, 679 672 8577
E-mail: jnaicker@wwfpacific.org.fj

Brian Thompson,
WWF International,
Tel: +41 79 477 3553
E-mail: bthomson@wwfint.org

Martin Miller,
WWF Global Climate Change Programme,
Tel: +41 97 347 2256
E-mail: mhiller@wwfint.org