Friday, February 28, 2014

Island nation takes on the world’s polluters

Jaspreet Kindra in IRIN: A Russian film crew arrived in Palau at the end of 2013 to shoot the reality show ‘Octpob’ on one of the archipelago’s more than 500 islands. The show leaves contestants in isolated locales with limited water and food to test their survival skills. In 2004, the US version of the show, Survivor, was also shot in Palau.

Palauans welcomed the TV crew and its glittering cast of celebrities - it did, after all, bring in much-needed revenue. But the situation presented an uncomfortable irony: while Russian and American contestants have tested their survival abilities in Palau, Russia and the US have adopted strong positions at the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks, which could threaten Palau’s own chances of surviving as sea levels rise.

The UNFCCC talks aim to come up with a treaty that assigns responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for the provision financial and technical support to vulnerable countries, like Palau, that have not contributed to global warming. The talks have met resistance from the developed world and emerging economies like China and India, which say they are not responsible for past emissions and should not be held accountable for emissions in the future.

Time is running out for low-lying islands like Palau. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a recent assessment, “if the world were to stay on the current fossil-fuel intensive growth model” dealing with the impact of changing climate in 14 of the Pacific Ocean islands, including Palau, could cost them 12.7 percent of their collective annual GDP equivalent by 2100....

NOAA image of shark silhouettes near Palau

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