Articles: Marshall Islands Speaks out on Rising Seas and Sinking States

Contributed by YokweOnline on Sep 12, 2010 - 02:06 PM

Marshall Islands Speaks out on Rising Seas and Sinking States

  • Fast Start Finance [1] - website supporting immediate action on climate change; RMI Page
  • Marshall Islands looks to speed up access to climate change money [2] - Muller worried that billions of dollars pledged by donors may not reach countries that need it.
  • Letter to the Editor: Islands Under Threat [3] - RMI Ambassador to the U.N responds to TIMES editorial.
  • Center for Climate Change Law: Call for Papers [4] - Conference on Drowning Island Nations: Legal Implications and Remedies.
  • AUDIO: The Legal Rights of Climate Change Victims [5] - Center for Climate Change Law professor Michael Gerrard addresses climate change issues.
  • The Urgent Islands [6] - New York TIMES editorial on sea-rise legal implications.
  • If a Country Sinks Beneath the Sea, Is It Still a Country? [7] - Nobody truly addressing the legal and human rights effects," said Phillip Muller.

  • WEBSITE: Aims to provide transparency about the amount, direction and use of fast start climate finance, in turn building trust in its delivery and impact.Development of the website was initiated by the government of the Netherlands, with support from the governments of Costa Rica, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Norway, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.The site was developed in response to a global call - from developed and developing countries, non-governmental organizations and others - for publicly available, clear information on fast start climate finance flows.

    MONEY: Phillip Muller says the rules, regulations and lengthy application process have all hindered access to the money. “We’re setting up a website where small island countries and least developing countries will be able to put up their list of projects in which donor countries will be able to look at those projects and identify which projects they would be willing to fund or which projects they are more interested in.”

    LETTER: Re “The Urgent Islands” (editorial, Aug. 30): I have just returned from my capital to witness our own trees falling into the ocean.Despite the threats to our sovereignty posed by climate impacts, my homeland will not go underwater lying down. It would be a tragedy if the $30 billion of immediate global climate finance — promised at Copenhagen — only adds to a rising sea of red tape instead of producing concrete results.

    LISTEN: Climate change is already affecting the inhabitants of low-lying lands. Papua New Guinea, for example, is preparing to evacuate the approximately 2,000 Carteret Islanders. Their land is expected to be under water by 2015. While these residents prepare to leave behind their disappearing homes, legal experts around the world are facing serious challenges of what to do with millions of permanently displaced people. As part of our “next green thing” series, we’re joined by Michael Gerrard. He’s a professor at Columbia Law School, where he leads the Center for Climate Change Law.

    CALL: The Center will be convening a conference at Columbia Law School in the spring of 2011 that would allow scholars and practitioners from around the world, including from the affected island nations, to come together to explore and examine these issues.

    URGENT: Officials in the Marshall Islands — where a 20-inch rise would drown at least one atoll — are not only thinking about the possibility of having to move entire populations but are entertaining even more existential questions: If its people have to abandon the islands, what citizenship can they claim? Will the country still have a seat at the United Nations? Who owns its fishing rights and offshore mineral resources? Marshall Islands leaders have asked Michael Gerrard, an expert on climate change law at Columbia Law School, to help them find answers to what he regards as plausible questions. He further notes that an island can become uninhabitable before the sea level rises above it, because even moderate storms can swamp any agricultural land and render freshwater supplies undrinkable.

    COUNTRY: Rising ocean levels brought about by climate change have created a flood of unprecedented legal questions for small island nations and their neighbors. Among them: If a country disappears, is it still a country? Does it keep its seat at the United Nations? Who controls its offshore mineral rights? Its shipping lanes? Its fish...Until recently, such questions of sovereignty and human rights have been the domain of a scattered group of lawyers and academics. But now the Republic of the Marshall Islands -- a Micronesian nation of 29 low-lying coral atolls in the North Pacific -- is campaigning to stockpile a body of knowledge it hopes will turn international attention to vulnerable countries' plights.