Small Islands Lead World in Climate Treaty Ratification

UNITED NATIONS—Leaders from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a coalition of 44 island and coastal nations that are highly vulnerable to climate change, are meeting today ahead of tomorrow’s historic Paris climate change agreement signing ceremony.

The first four countries to complete their domestic ratification processes—Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Maldives—were all small island states and AOSIS members and they will be discussing how to encourage all countries to ratify and how to accelerate action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the crisis.

“It is no accident that islands were the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement. As some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts, we are acutely aware of the need to move urgently to implement its objectives and that starts by bringing the agreement into force,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Energy and Environment for the Maldives and Chair of AOSIS. “But even as we celebrate this historic occasion, we must work in earnest to accelerate the deployment of climate solutions in every corner of the world and help vulnerable countries prepare for the impacts that can no longer be avoided. Our mantra moving forward must be: more, faster, better.”

After the signing ceremony tomorrow a group of leaders from the countries that have ratified will meet with U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at a special event recognizing their leadership. “The Maldives is proud to be one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement,’ said Ibrahim. “We hope the climate change leadership islands have shown once again inspires all countries to follow suit and implement their national plans as quickly as possible.”

The Paris Agreement is the first international accord committing all countries to take action to address the crisis. At the meeting, AOSIS was instrumental in winning the inclusion of language calling on the world to try to limit average global temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius, a level many scientists believe is essential to avert the worst impacts of climate change.