While world leaders from wealthy nations are acknowledging the “existential threat” of climate change, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Kausia Natanu has raised his land 13 to 16 feet (4 to 5 meters) above sea level by reclaiming land. Racing to save a small island nation from drowning. .

While experts issue warnings about the uninhabitability of the Marshall Islands, President David Kabwa The inequity of a seawall built to protect one house must now be remedied by flooding another house next door.

This is the reality of climate change: some people talk about it from afar, while others must live it every day.

Netanyahu and Kabwa tried to demonstrate this fact on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. Together they launched the Rising Nations Initiative, a global partnership aimed at protecting the sovereignty, heritage and rights of Pacific atoll island nations whose existence is threatened by climate change.

Natano explained how rising sea levels have affected everything from the soil that his people rely on to grow crops, to homes, roads and power lines that are washed away. The cost of making a living eventually becomes too much to bear, he said, causing families to leave and the nation itself to disappear.

“This is how a tool of the Pacific dies,” said Nato. “Thus our islands will cease to exist.”

The Rising Nations Initiative calls for a political declaration by the international community to protect the sovereignty and rights of Pacific atoll island nations. Creating a comprehensive program to build and finance adaptation and resilience projects to help local communities maintain livelihoods; A living archive of the culture and unique heritage of each Pacific Island country; and support for achieving UNESCO World Heritage status.

The initiative has already received support from countries such as the United States, Germany, South Korea and Canada, all of which recognize the unique burden that island nations such as Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands must bear.

Oh Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change The report, released in February, highlighted the vulnerability of small island developing states and other global hotspots such as Africa and South Asia, whose populations are 15 times more likely to die from extreme weather than in less vulnerable parts of the world.

Report co-author Adele Thomas of Climate Analytics and the University of the Bahamas said if the warming were more than a few tenths of a degree, it could make some areas — including some small islands — uninhabitable. On Wednesday, NATO noted that Tuvalu and its Pacific neighbors “do nothing to contribute to climate change,” accounting for less than .03% of the world’s carbon emissions. Is.

He said that it has happened for the first time in history that the collective action of many nations has made many sovereign countries uninhabitable.

Representatives of other nations attending Wednesday’s event did not shirk the responsibility. But whether they will do enough to change things remains to be seen.

Many have pledged to help island nations pay for early warning systems and bring their buildings up to code to better protect against hurricanes and other weather events. But there was less talk about mitigating the problem of climate change and more about how to come to terms with the destruction it has already caused.

“We see this train coming, and it’s coming down the tracks, and we need to get out of the way,” said Amy Pope, deputy director general of the International Organization for Migration.

Germany’s Climate Envoy, Jennifer Morganwho also attended Wednesday’s event, spoke about his country’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045. But while Germany is committed to phasing out coal as an electricity source by 2030, it has had to reactivate coal-fired power plants. Winter amid energy shortages as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

For the president of the Marshall Islands, wealthy nations can only do so much. During his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Kabwa urged world leaders to embrace sectors that rely on fossil fuels, including aviation and shipping. He points to the Marshall Islands’ proposed carbon levy for international shipping, which he says will “advance the transition to zero-emission shipping, shifting resources from pollution to the most vulnerable.” “

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has similarly encouraged the world’s biggest polluters to go after them. During his opening remarks to the assembly on Tuesday, he emphasized rich countries. Tax the profits of energy companies. And channel the funds both to “countries most vulnerable to damage and loss from the climate crisis” and those struggling with the rising cost of living.

In the meantime, as wealthy nations emphasize action rather than words in their UN speeches, Kabwa, Nato and their fellow island leaders will continue to deal with the reality of climate change on a daily basis – and their existence. Will try to continue.

Pia Sarkar, a Philadelphia-based reporter for the Associated Press, is on assignment to cover the United Nations General Assembly. Follow him on Twitter and for more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, visit

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