Climate change and the small island developing states

The case of the small island developing states provides a number of important insights into how these issues might best be handled. These countries are among the most susceptible in the world to climate impacts, as even a small increase in sea level would submerge a significant proportion of their territories. Moreover, many lie in regions that are already susceptible to hurricanes and typhoons. In addition, severe weather events are likely to increase in frequency and intensity as climate change accelerates, causing further devastation in these countries.

The small island developing states are also, as a group, relatively poor countries, with limited ability to meet even the basic needs of their citizens, much less adapt to climate change. Historically, their primary fuel source has been imported diesel fuel that, when combusted, gives off a significant amount of pollution. As a result, these countries have limited capacity to generate electricity, and what electricity is available is often expensive, unreliable and environmentally damaging.

In November 2000, the Climate Institute and its partners including the Organization of American States, the Energy and Security Group established the Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative to assist the small islands states in developing and implementing comprehensive sustainable energy plans that would transform their energy systems from fossil fuels to a renewable energy base and reduce their reliance on imported diesel. This program is currently active in four Caribbean and two Pacific island nations with plans to expand to another three islands states in 2008-2009. The donors of this initiative include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the United Nations Foundation, the government of Italy, Austria and the US Agency for International Development.

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