Addressing an extraordinary summit meeting, Dennis Francis – a senior diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago – said he was determined to ensure the issue received the attention it deserves during his presidency .
As the climate crisis rapidly grows, the need for more inclusive and innovative approaches to slowing climate change, including rising seas, resonated throughout the High Level Week, particularly at the Summit on Climate Change. climate ambition.
For many countries, particularly small island developing States, this issue poses an existential threat.
“This is not speculation or excessive exaggeration. It’s real,” explained Mr. Francis, supporting his remarks with data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The United Nations body evaluating science related to climate change estimates that, under current conditions, average sea levels are expected to rise by eight to 29 centimeters by 2030, with equatorial regions suffering the most .
This increase is mainly due to thermal expansion, worsened by the melting of mountain glaciers and the ice cap, with a further increase predicted to reach 70 cm by 2070.
Extreme sea level events, which once occurred once a century, could become an annual phenomenon by the end of this century.
Not just our problem
A staggering 900 million people living in low-lying coastal areas are at risk of losing their homes due to rising sea levels and other climate impacts, Mr Francis warned, adding that the problem ‘extends well beyond coastal communities.
No one is safe from potential catastrophe, he said, “fertile river deltas like the Mississippi, Mekong and Nile – the breadbaskets of the world – are sinking.”
A necessary collective ambition
Beyond the devastating impacts on livelihoods and communities, sea level rise brings other implications, spanning environmental, legal, political, technical, economic, cultural and human rights dimensions .
“Not only do we risk losing land, but also the rich cultural and historical heritage of these islands and regions which have helped shape people’s identities,” Mr. Francis warned the dignitaries gathered early in the morning.
Mr. Francis called on leaders to raise their “collective ambition” and take the necessary measures, and to put this issue on the agenda of the next COP28, on November 30, and the Conference of SIDS (small Developing Island States) planned for 2024.