Marshall Islands declares national climate crisis

Marshall Islands declares national climate crisis
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The Republic of the Marshall Islands, one of the lowest lying island nations in the world, has declared a national emergency over climate change.

The country’s president, Hilda Heine, tweeted the news Friday, blaming the international community for not acting quickly enough to mitigate global warming “of its own making.”

“Our parliament has officially declared a national climate crisis. As one of only four low-lying coral atoll nations in the world, the failure of the international community to adequately respond to the global climate crisis of its own making holds particularly grave consequences,” she tweeted.

The official declaration of the “National Climate Crisis” cites the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that warned of the extreme climate effects expected to impact low-lying atoll nations.

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The report predicted that a global average temperature rise between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius could result in an average sea level rise between 1 and 4 feet by 2100.

Such significant water rising could have grave impacts on the Marshall Islands, an archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean. At that rate, sea level rise and erosion are expected to make the islands nearly uninhabitable by 2050. The country’s 29 atolls average 6.5 feet above sea level. Nearly 75,000 people live there.

The resolution says it’s a decision by the government to “unite fully and equivocally behind the science” and recognize calls by the country’s youth and their “right to a climate safe future.” It adds that the declaration puts climate concerns at the forefront of the nation's mind.

“The declaration will direct the current and future governments of the Marshall Islands to ensure the fight against climate change remains the country’s top priority," it says.

It additionally asks the international community to consider new ways to support the “extreme vulnerability” of the island nation.

In February, Heine first announced a plan to begin elevating the country’s islands to keep them habitable. 

“Raising our islands is a daunting task but one that must be done,” she told Marshall Islands Journal at the time.

“We need the political will, and especially traditional leaders’ commitments, to see this through. That is why a national dialogue is planned to bring all the parties together.”