Too little is being done to ward off the dangers of climate change, leaders of small island and mountainous countries told the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. One after another, they called for intensified measures to tackle global warming that threatens to inundate low-lying islands and melt the snow and ice off the world's mountains.
"The Maldives, as a low-lying small island state, is particularly vulnerable to the perils of global climate change, a point brought sharply into focus by the recent sea swells which submerged a large part of the country," said the Indian Ocean nation's Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid.
Despite many conferences, summits and plans aimed at combating climate change, rhetoric exceeds implementation and "the past 20 years has been an era of missed opportunities," he said.
Underscoring the importance of "collective responsibility" in curbing climate change, Shahid expressed optimism that the upcoming major climate change summit in Bali, Indonesia, in December provides an occasion to make up for lost time.
Kiribati, [pronounced kee-ree-bas] another small island developing state, has been signaling for decades that sea level rise brought on by melting ice caps and glaciers could doom the low-lying country.
Natanaera Kirata, the country's Minister of Public Works and Utilities, told the General Assembly that most of Kiribati's islands are barely two meters above mean sea level, making global warming a crucial security concern.
He called on the international community to adopt a unified response to the challenges posed by climate change and for the issue to receive increased political support and commitment at the UN.