Delegates from Pacific Island nations have arrived in Palau to attend the Pacific Islands Forum to discuss climate change, marine life protection and non-communicable diseases. The forum began on July 29 and is expected to last until August 1 with the attendance of observers from the U.S., India and China.
Delegates from Kiribati and Tuvalu islands have appealed for their Pacific neighbours including Australia to address climate change with better policies. Kiribati is about two to three metres above sea level, while Tuvalu is at least four metres. These low-lying island-nations are already facing the threat of rising sea levels and agriculture problems.
Maina Talia, a 29-year-old delegate from Tuvalu, wants Australia to consider a better climate change policy. He said small island-nations are the "most vulnerable of the most vulnerable countries" since there are no mountains or rivers. Talia wrote on The Guardian that the people of Tuvalu will have a difficult time to adapt, and added that the high tides are killing their crops.
A United Nations report has warned that climate change will force millions of people to relocate triggering famine, inciting conflict and losing trillions of dollars-worth of economic gains.
The "irreversible" damage due to climate change will cause economic shocks, and severe poverty may lead to mass migration. The risk of violence may increase from protests triggered by international or civil conflicts.
An Auckland study revealed the impact of rising ocean temperatures to fish. Continuous change in temperature may limit fish habitat. The study has significant implications to Pacific Island nations if the predictions of climate scientists were found to be true.
Previously, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had released a report stating that oceans rose in temperature from 1971 to 2010. The UN panel observed the recent warming trends and observed the result of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Small island nations fear that the continuous rise in sea levels will force their people to relocate to higher ground and abandon their livelihood.
With the repeal of Australia's carbon tax, Pacific nation leaders have expressed their disappointment. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously announced he will not be able to attend the Pacific Islands Forum because he is attending to the recovery operations of the downed Malaysia Airlines MH17 in Ukraine.