Climate Change Update: The Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership

 Not familiar with Majuro? It is a declaration by 15 Pacific Ocean states including Australia and New Zealand. It is in effect a declaration of war against continued development of fossil fuel energy sources. It is an affirmation that climate change is the issue we must all address on the planet. And it is a take charge declaration that states unequivocally that atmospheric warming is not a bargaining chip for endless conferences that accomplish nothing. Its provisions were adopted in Majuro, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, on the 5th day of September, 2013, and are as follows:
The Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership
    1. Climate change has arrived. It is the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific and one of the greatest challenges for the entire world.
    2. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that escalating greenhouse gas emissions continue to cause the sharp rise in average global temperatures over the past century, the alarming acidification of our oceans, the rapid loss of polar sea ice, sea-level rise, and the striking incidence of more extreme weather events all over the world.
    3. On 9 May 2013, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 measured near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began. In crossing this historic threshold, the world entered a new danger zone. Unless we quickly change course, global average temperatures are projected to rise by 4 Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) degrees or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the Century, resulting in unprecedented human and environmental impacts.
    4. We, the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, underline the need for urgent action at all levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions commensurate with the science and to respond urgently and sufficiently to the social, economic and security impacts of climate change to ensure the survival and viability of all Pacific small island developing States, in particular low-lying atoll States, and other vulnerable countries and regions worldwide.
    5. At the same time, we recognize that the necessary energy revolution and economic transformation to low-carbon development is an unprecedented opportunity to enhance our security, protect and ensure the sustainability of our natural resources and environment, and to improve our people’s health.
    6. We confirm the responsibility for all to act to urgently reduce and phase down greenhouse gas pollution in order to avert a climate crisis for present and future generations.
    7. The responsibility of all to act falls to every government, every company, every organization and every person with the capacity to do so, both individually and collectively.
    8. We commit to be Climate Leaders.
    9. To lead is to act. In supporting this Declaration, a government, economic entity, company, civil society organization or individual commits to demonstrate climate leadership through action that contributes to the urgent reduction and phase down of greenhouse gas pollution.
    10. Recognizing our unique vulnerability to climate change, the predicted catastrophic impacts on the security and livelihoods of our people, and the significant benefits that come with our transition to renewable, clean and sustainable energy sources, we, the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, confirm our climate leadership in the form of the commitments listed at the end of this Declaration. We also want to do more.
    11. We call on our partners to enhance, accelerate and ensure the effective delivery of their support for the design and implementation of the commitments of the Pacific small island developing States.
    12. We also call on others, in particular our Post-Forum Dialogue Partners, to contribute to the urgent reduction and phase down of greenhouse gas pollution. Those who support this Declaration will list specific commitments that contribute more than previous efforts to the urgent reduction and phase down of greenhouse gas pollution, and will submit them to the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum for listing with this Declaration.
    13. This Declaration is a platform for an upward spiral of action to urgently reduce and phase down greenhouse gas pollution. Those who support this Declaration are strongly encouraged to continue to scale-up their efforts by submitting for listing further specific commitments that contribute more than previous efforts to the urgent reduction and phase down of greenhouse pollution.
    14. In addition, we commit to accelerate and intensify our efforts to prepare for and adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change, and to further develop and implement policies, strategies and legislative frameworks, with support where necessary, to climate-proof our essential physical infrastructure, adapt our key economic sectors and ensure climate-resilient sustainable development for present and future generations.
    15. This Declaration will be presented by the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum to the Secretary-General of the United Nations as a contribution to his efforts to catalyze ambitious climate action and mobilize political will for a universal, ambitious and legally-binding climate change agreement by 2015.
    16. This Declaration and the actions under it are intended to complement, strengthen and augment processes under way and commitments already made, including those under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.
    17. We agree to review the status and implementation of this Declaration at the 45th Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ meeting.
The signatories include Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
You can read their very specific commitment targets here.
What is so different from Kyoto or Rio or Copenhagen is the lack of quid pro quo in the declaration. These states intend to move ahead on their own in addressing climate change and invite the rest of the world’s countries to join them. But they are not waiting for the rest of the world because they no longer can. Many of the Pacific island nations are experiencing the first wave of atmospheric warming impacts – rising sea levels. For them (see picture below) it is no longer a question of if climate change will have an impact but when.
Majuro climate change

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...