Climate change was a hot topic at the general debate Friday during the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, with urgent calls for global efforts in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, especially from small island nations.
Prime Minister David Thompson of Barbados, which has just experienced the destruction and devastation of a hurricane season, said countries in the Caribbean are acutely aware of the urgency attached to action to mitigate the causes of climate change.
"Time is not on our side," Thompson said.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik echoed the concerns of small island states that climate change and the resulting sea level rise threatens their very existence.
Plassnik proposed developing the UN Environment Program into a fully-fledged World Environment Organization and creating a new International Renewable Energy Agency. He offered to host new agency in Vienna.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of Bahamas, where 80 percent of its landmass is within 1.5 meters of sea level, spoke of "dire prognosis" of climate change to all and most especially for Small Island Developing States.
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi called for "selfless and concerted efforts" by all countries led by the major greenhouse gas emitters to fight global warming.
"The Bali Road Map in its four pillars of adaptation, mitigation, finance and technology should be supported both in word and in deed," he said.
Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said his country faces the melting of glaciers and shifting weather patterns.
"We need to protect our people from the rising vulnerabilities of climate change," he said. "The melting of glaciers and shifting weather patterns are threatening the life support systems, undermining the sustainability of agriculture and inducing extreme climate-induced disasters such as frequent floods and landslides."
Vanuatu President Kalkot Matas Kelekele, for his part, urged the international community for more concerted action in addressing climate change as a security issue.
"Unless the present trend of global warming is reversed through sincere and concerted international action through the UN framework, some of our Pacific nations will be submerged," he said.
"If such a tragedy does happen, then the UN and its members would have failed in their first and most basic duty to a member nation and its innocent people," Kelekele warned.
Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Josaia V. Bainimarama said climate change poses a serious risk to regional stability and security.
"While the rest of the world continues to endlessly debate the implications of climate change, in the very small islands and atolls in the Pacific, the problem is very much upon us; it is now a present and very real danger," he said.
"The observed and potential impacts on our people and ecosystems, due to climate change, are all too real and immediate," Bainimarama said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2008)