In face of climate crisis, Pacific leader optimistic after US re-enters Paris Agreement

A leaders in the region says Pacific island nations have been frustrated with the "dismissive attitude" of former US president Donald Trump after the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. But she's glad Joe Biden is taking a different stance on the issue of climate change.

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Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor says the issue is not one for "10 years’ time — it's happening right now". Source: Breakfast

Biden's climate summit earlier this week saw 40 world leaders come together to address the issue.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor's stance comes after Trump removed the US from the Paris Agreement.

Despite being one of the biggest polluters, though, the United States won't be the first to feel the impacts of climate change.

That falls, in part, on the Pacific, who face the prospect of being swallowed up by the climate crisis that's not of their making.

Taylor this morning told Breakfast climate change action is needed now. 

"I am really pleased that the United States has come back into the Paris Agreement, that's very very important as a big power," she said.

"But this meeting recently that was hosted by President Biden, I think the commitments the US has made, the commitments the US has made nationally too, very, very interesting and very important.

"But all the other bigger powers that were there, all together they produce about 80 per cent of the carbon that goes into the atmosphere, their contributions were minimal, no change, economic progress much more important than the stability of our whole planet that we all share."

We can put rockets into space, but we don't seem to care what seems to happen in small atolls. - Dame Meg Taylor

Taylor said that was having a big impact on the world's climate.

"What we're looking at now is a trajectory of increasing temperatures above the 1.5C, we're about 1.3C now and if we keep going further then devastating affects for the Pacific," Taylor said.

"I think in the Pacific there's been frustration for quite a while, I mean, during the previous president of the United States' tenure and a dismissive attitude towards the Paris Agreement. For the Pacific countries that was almost dismissing the issues that we're facing.

"There's a lot of discussion around mitigation constantly, but for the Pacific we need adaptation resources so that people can adapt to what is happening around us now. It's not going to happen in 10 years time, it's happening right now."

Taylor urged nations to commit to reducing carbon emissions, for temperatures to increase no higher than 1.5 degrees and to come up with innovative solutions to climate change.

"I don't think it's beyond human kind to do that. We can put rockets into space, but we don't seem to care what seems to happen in small atolls," she said.