For immediate release: Japan’s New Target Puts Small Islands In Greater Danger

In response to the announcement made by Japan today that it is drastically reducing its emissions reduction target, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 low-lying island and coastal nations that are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, has released the following statement:

“We deeply sympathize with the tragedy Japan suffered as a result of the Fukushima disaster, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan as they continue to manage the difficult impacts of this ordeal.

“Given that Japan is the world’s fifth largest emitter, AOSIS is extremely concerned that the announcement represents a huge step backwards in the global effort to hold warming below the essential 1.5-2 degree Celsius threshold, and puts our populations at great risk. This is neither the time nor the place to be backtracking on commitments made by Leaders in Copenhagen.  Developed countries have committed to taking the lead and must do so as we work to peak global emissions this decade and ink a new global agreement in 2015.

“We are also aware that the crisis now unfolding in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which also caused significant damage for our members in Palau and The Federated States of Micronesia, is just the latest in a series of climate related extreme weather catastrophes.

“Unless the international community works together to urgently reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, we know more storms like Haiyan lie just around the corner. This is the reality Island Nations face today.

“AOSIS’s members continue to hope that we heed the plea from the Philippines and the children of Kiribati that we heard on the first day and take actions that will make Warsaw the signature of our commitment that we truly care.

“While we recognize the challenge Japan and other countries face in meeting their energy needs, there are abundant renewable energy alternatives available to replace fossil fuels with clean energy. We must now redouble our efforts to do what is necessary to ensure a safe climate future.”