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“All countries and peoples are in a global war against climate change. We have witnessed deadly fires in the US, typhoons in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, and floods in Asia. It is a war that we can win, but we must be much more aggressive in combatting it,’ David Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, the first of several Pacific Island leaders to speak today, said in a pre-recorded address. 

He said “climate change is our single greatest long-term security threat. Rising waters threaten to make life in remote atolls impossible. Higher temperatures threaten crops, livestock, and fish. The world must transition to sustainable and renewable energy.” 

Indeed, coal and natural gas are unsustainable solutions for the environment and are harmful to both economic growth and equality of opportunity.

“If our world is to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement, all nations must make a unified and global effort,” President Panuelo said, noting that, for example, through the Montreal Protocol, some 98 percent of ozone-depleting substances have been phased out by the global community.  

He went on to explain that Micronesia’s exposure to the Pacific Ocean carries risks beyond climate change. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, he said, by 2050 there may be more plastics than fish in our oceans.  

“As such, in February 2020, he had signed legislation into public law which bans the importation of Styrofoam and one-time-use plastics into Micronesia. Further, over the next five years, Micronesia would partner with the Blue Prosperity Coalition to seek to protect 30 percent of its ocean’s Exclusive Economic Zone by 2030. 

“Micronesia is thus taking actions today for our ocean’s prosperity tomorrow. I urge all peoples and nations to join our efforts. We cannot allow COVID-19 to halt efforts such as the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework or the intergovernmental negotiations on the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) instrumentation,” he stated. 

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Pacific small islands and ‘Big Ocean’ nations at UN Assembly make the case for climate action, shift to clean energy