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UN chief says 'obscene' that small islands pay climate consequences

By AFP

May 27, 2024 11:52 PM


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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday it is "obscene" that small island states, which are on the front line of climate change, should pay for the fossil fuel industry's greed and competition between major economies.

"Your unique geography puts you at the mercy of climate chaos, rising sea levels and land degradation," Guterres said at the opening of the fourth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) summit in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

"Climate change is an existential crisis for the entire human family, but SIDS are on the front lines," he told the conference of 39 states, whose populations number roughly 65 million people.

SIDS are extremely vulnerable to climate change but not rich enough to stop it on their own. One key hope from the summit is increased climate financing -- though many criticize the slow pace of fulfilling previous UN aid pledges.

"We cannot accept the disappearance of any country or culture under the rising waves," Guterres said.

"The idea that an entire island state could become collateral damage for profiteering by the fossil fuel industry, or competition between major economies, is simply obscene," he added.

Guterres said the United Nations supported SIDS' aspirations to "halt and mitigate the terrible impacts of the climate crisis," as well as to protect the ocean and biodiversity, and to build resilient economies.

He urged SIDS governments to invest and engage in these goals but said they "cannot do this alone."

"The international community has a duty to support you –- led by the countries that have greatest responsibility and capacity to deal with the challenges you face," Guterres said.

"SIDS are a test case for climate justice and financial justice," he added.

Last week, the UN maritime court ruled in favor of nine small island states that brought a case to seek increased protection of the world's oceans from catastrophic climate change.

The countries that brought the case called the court decision "historic," and experts said it could be influential in shaping the scope of future climate litigation involving greenhouse gas emissions.


AFP


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