Marshall Islands could vanish if climate change is not tackled now, warns envoy

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The Marshall Islands could vanish within 50 years if nothing is done to combat global warming, the nation’s climate envoy has warned.

Tina Stege said the islands are already feeling the effects of climate change, including longer and more intense droughts and rising sea levels, and she urged world leaders to act before they disappear.

Ms Stege said she hopes the outcome of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow this week will help save her home in the central Pacific.

She told Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “I want to come out with an agreement that keeps 1.5C (the limit on global warming) in reach.

“If we go past it, the future is really quite unimaginable. I want to see that we have support and solidarity, particularly on adaptation issues for my country where living with 1.1C is a challenge but living with 1.5C is going to be very painful.

“We are going to need to adapt in a transformative way and we are going to need support to do that and so we really need to see an addition for finance.”

Mr Phillips asked Ms Stege whether she was suggesting that if the issue is not fixed, the Marshall Islands will be no more within 50 years.

She said: “We are a nation that sits just two metres above sea level.

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“We’re looking at a sea level rise of 0.5 metres, which means yearly inundations, and we need to start thinking about how to raise land and buildings, and how we’re going to survive in a 1.5C world.

“I can’t accept the outcome that the Marshall Islands will be history in 50 years. I don’t think it’s acceptable to anyone in this world to write off a country.

“We’re on the front line and are the most vulnerable, but if you protect the most vulnerable you protect yourself. We have to have hope for our future.”

The islands have a population of just 60,000 but they are one of the first countries in the world to be severely affected by climate change.

Rising sea levels are expected to put 40% of all buildings in its capital Majuro at risk, with 96% of it at risk of frequent flooding.

Ms Stege added: “We are working on a national adaptation plan, which we call our survival plan, and we have to have hope for our future.

“I am not consigning our future to history, that’s not a choice.

“Our choice is to work and to fight and to make sure that we have safety and security for my children and for my children’s children.

“That’s going to be a different reality, it’s going to be a transformed reality, we see that but don’t accept that reality means no future.”

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