“You might as well bomb our islands.”
President of the Republic of Palau Surangel Whipps Jr.’s comment is garnering attention. Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands in the South Pacific at the risk of being submerged due to sea-level rise caused by climate change. Marshall Islands, Maldives, Samoa, and other countries in a similar situation joined him.
“There is no dignity to a slow and painful death. We are drowning and our only hope is the life-ring you are holding,” President Whipps said to the leaders of G20 during his speech at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow on Tuesday (local time), according to the Guardian. “You might as well bomb our islands instead of making us suffer only to witness our slow and fateful demise,” he criticized slow-acting advanced countries.
“That’s why I used the example of you might as well bomb us... if there is no hope, we might as well just end it now,” the president explained his bold choice of words to ABC News.
The Marshall Islands, Palau’s neighboring country in a similar situation, also joined him. “I don't think it should be acceptable to any person in this world to write off a country,” said Marshall Islands’ Climate Envoy Tina Stege who attended COP26 on behalf of the country’s president, pleading that they are at the forefront of the threat of climate change. In a recent report, the World Bank named the Marshall Islands as one of the countries facing the biggest threat of being submerged due to climate change.
Former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed said that the islands would disappear if the global temperature rises over 1.5 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level in an interview with the Guardian. “I think 1.5 degrees Celsius must be asked for again and restated and never left. We cannot sign a suicide pact,” he said. “They still think it is their right to poison the planet because Europeans have done it in the past,” said the president regarding China, which is the biggest carbon emitter in the world.
“We are not just victims to this crisis; we have been resilient beacons of hope,” said Brianna Fruean, an environment activist from Samoa and a member of the international environment organization Pacific Climate Warriors, calling for attention from other countries. “Whatever happens to the Pacific will happen to the rest of the world.”
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