What you need to know
Countries in the Asia Pacific region are among the most vulnerable nations when talking about global warming. Recently, Fiji's parliament ratified the implementation of Paris Agreement in their country, hoping to pioneer the official agreement among participating countries.
Compiled by Yuan-ling Liang
On February 12, a unanimous vote was taken by the Fiji parliament to approve the Paris Agreement. The UN hopes to draw scores of world leaders to reinforce their commitment to tackling global warming, especially on the UN-ran signing ceremony in New York this April.
In December 2015, 195 countries struck a deal in Paris binding all countries for the first time to cap warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and “pursuing efforts” to keep it up to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Now, after the ratification of the Fiji parliament, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will sign the historic climate change agreement in April.
What Asia Pacific countries are facing
Given its heavily populated coastlines, Southeast Asia is particularly susceptible to extreme weather events brought about by climate change. Main threats posed by the rise of sea level in the region include the increased intensity of tropical cyclones and land loss issues.
DW reports, Murray Hiebert, the deputy director of the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says they were already seeing an increased intensity of storms, such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, two years ago.
Slate reports, Kiribati, a small island located in the west central Pacific, may soon need to relocate its entire population due to its vulnerable geographical condition. Last year, Fiji took in Kiribati residents as climate change made their homes uninhabitable.
David Livingston, an associate at the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says that record temperature levels have been seen in the warmer months of 2015 throughout the region will exacerbate in the decades ahead, with some countries, including Singapore and Indonesia, becoming virtually uninhabitable for certain days of the year by the end of the century.
Last year, Taipei was ranked as the most vulnerable city in the world according to a report on the vulnerability to natural disasters of 301 cities worldwide. According to Academia Sinica in Formosa Dr. Wang Chung-ho’s research in 2009, based on more data from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Taipei could be completely submerged by the end of the century. Low altitude areas in central and southern parts of Taiwan will also be first to be flooded due to rising sea levels.
Fiji’s movement is just the beginning
The Guardian reports, Fiji’s attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says tackling climate change was a major priority for the archipelago, which could face wide-scale flooding, fiercer tropical storms, and depleting fish stocks as a result of the world’s changing climate.
Under its climate policy, Fiji not only pledges to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, but also promises to cut overall emissions from its energy sector by 30% by 2030.
At least 55 countries are needed to ratify the treaty, representing at least 55% of the world’s climate emissions. Due to full support for the Paris Agreement at last year’s summit in Paris, observers now hold an optimistic attitude towards the event in New York this April.
Edited by Olivia Yang
Fiji becomes first country in the world to ratify Paris agreement (The Guardian)
Parliament ratifies Paris Agreement (Fiji Broadcasting Corporation)
What the Paris climate deal means for Southeast Asia (DW)
Climate Change May Soon Force This Island Nation to Relocate Its Entire Population (Slate)
Central, southern Taiwan to suffer from rising sea levels (China Post)
Formosa (Taiwan) warned of rising sea levels (SOS)