Press Briefing on sea level rise, climate migration and the effects on small island states in the Pacific, with a focus on the Marshall Islands
Friday, 6 December 2019, 12.30-13.00 p.m.
Press Conference Room CHILOE, Hall 10, COP venue & the full press conference will be live streamed here: https://unfccc-cop25.streamworld.de/ondemand
The recently published IPCC report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate stated that sea levels are rising faster and higher than previously expected. Without effective carbon emissions reduction, sea level is expected to rise between 61 cm and 110 cm by 2100. Long-term sea level rise will vary greatly depending on emissions, but could reach nearly 400 cm by 2300 if emissions are not reduced. Extreme sea level events that used to occur once a century will hit on many coasts every year by 2050, even under low emission scenarios. This is especially problematic for low-lying islands, such as the Pacific Islands, which could suffer due to disasters, see a loss of livelihood due to salinity intrusion or could become entirely uninhabitable.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands has seen more than a third of its population move abroad in the last 15-20 years. Many move for work, healthcare and education, and climate change is now threatening those that have chosen to stay. As one of the lowest-lying island nation states in the world, the Marshall Islands are particularly vulnerable to the rising sea level and other climate hazards. Research by van der Geest, together with colleagues from University of Hawaii, shows a correlation between climate impacts and migration rates at the household level: those who experience more severe climate stress also have higher migration rates. The study further shows that most Marshallese fiercely resist the idea that they would need to leave their islands someday. They think that adaptation is possible, and they do not want the international community to give up on them.
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