While the Pacific only contributes 0.03% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, these islands have become exposed to the early impacts of climate change. This has prompted many Pacific countries to set ambitious renewable energy goals, however implementation of these ideas still remains the the leading issue.
“Many Pacific countries have also set their own ambitious climate targets, and at a renewable energy meeting in the region this month, the Danish Government committed $2 million to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to help countries meet these targets.” (tcktcktck.org).
Another devastating consequence facing Pacific Islanders is food insecurity. As much as 40% of GDP on the Kiribati islands comes from fishing, while on the Marshall islands the industry accounts for 25% of the country’s income.
Experts have advocated for the development of sustainable freshwater fisheries, and an example of this can be found on the island of Samoa where farmers have started raising Nile Tilapia. Although in a contained environment, this species of fish is an alien and could damage the fragile island ecosystem if an accident were to occur.
We should avoid “alternative solutions” and rather, the small nations and the international energy industry need to tackle the problem through a greater dependence on sustainable energy. Major pacific polluters including Chinese industry and the mining operations in South America must switch their allegiances to more sustainable forms of energy. Use of solar energy in arid areas of China and the development of geothermal energy sources in the Andean region of South America both provide feasible alternatives to the current energy situation in the Pacific Ocean region.
Progress began in the geothermal energy sector when the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE) launched an initiative to improve access to geothermal energy in the Andean Region. In addition to the sustainable developments on a global scale, many of the small at-risk island nations are showing increased leadership on climate change and have been demanding the international community make greater efforts to cut carbon emissions.
Hope still remains for these isolated islands, only the future can predict what course of action will be taken by the international community in an effort to reverse these frightening climatic projections.