Concerned about threats to their security, a group of Pacific island developing nations took the floor of the UN General Assembly today to demand adoption of a legally-binding treaty at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December.

Speaking on behalf of the 11 vulnerable small Pacific islands represented at the UN, Ambassador Stuart Beck from the island nation of Palau stated that “flimsy moral sentiments at Copenhagen are no substitute for legally binding treaties and do little to ensure the security of the most vulnerable among us.”

Rejecting recent calls made by some of the world’s biggest polluters for a delay in taking decisive and legally-binding action on climate change, the Pacific Island states told the 192-member world body that the political choices for Copenhagen have already been outlined in negotiation texts.

According to Ambassador Beck, “the choice before leaders at Copenhagen will be if the global community has sufficient political will to ensure our security through legal instruments with serious, specific action on emissions by all nations, or if we will fail ourselves and future generations” by delaying decisions and risking prolonged deadlocks.

UN member states were told by a recent report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that climate change poses specific security risks to vulnerable countries.

Ambassador Beck highlighted that climate-related relocation has already happened in the Pacific and that entire nations might disappear, stating that”we are talking about the survival of nations, people and unique cultures.”

Some Pacific island nations, including Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, are only one or two meters above sea level, and the UN report confirmed that climate change impacts pose a serious threat to their statehood

On behalf of the Pacific small islands, Palau Ambassador Beck noted that “the linkage between climate change and security needs to be a permanent focus of deliberations” at the UN, including examination by the Security Council.

In June this year, the Pacific island nations spearheaded the adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution recognizing the security implications of climate change.

Also addressing the UN, Ambassador Collin Beck from the Solomon Islands registered “deep concern from public statements” seeking to lower expectations for concluding a legal instrument at the Copenhagen meeting, stating that “those on the frontline will continue to suffer on a daily basis as we continue to postpone action,” and that global leaders “keep having summits on climate change, and yet we have not lived up to what we have said.”

The Pacific islands are part of the 43-member Alliance of Small Island States, which ended recent climate talks in Barcelona with a call to conclude binding legal instruments at Copenhagen. The island states have called for global warming to be limited to well below 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. However, large polluters, through the Major Economies Forum, support a 2 degree goal, which would risk substantial impacts to vulnerable nations.

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