US unveils Pacific Islands climate fund

A new United States climate fund for small Pacific nations has been unveiled on the final day of the Pacific Islands Forum, helping offset criticism of the big polluter’s climate change commitments.


US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is attending a post-forum dialogue in the Marshall Islands on Friday alongside representatives from other big greenhouse gas emitters China and India.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak on Friday afternoon, Mrs Jewell announced the new Pacific American Climate Fund, to help small, developing Pacific states adapt to the threats of climate change.

It will include $US20m ($A22m)-$US24m, albeit subject to funds, to provide and monitor grants for adaptation measures.

The US also announced $US4.5m over five years for a disaster preparedness and response programme in the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia.

Pacific leaders were hoping the US would make a bolder commitment to tackle climate change, such as increasing its 2020 emissions-reduction target from 17 per cent of 2005 levels, but was left disappointed by Mrs Jewell reiterating its existing commitments.

The appearance of big polluters at the post-forum dialogue on Friday follows forum members’ agreement on Thursday to the Majuro Declaration, calling on all states to take meaningful steps to address climate change, including boosting their carbon reduction targets.

Along with pressure on the US to boost its climate change commitments, the Marshalls – a former US territory which endured dozens of nuclear tests 60 years ago – demanded it live up to its obligations to Marshall Islanders still affected by resulting health issues, and settle the $US2 billion in compensation claims still outstanding.

However, US Ambassador Tom Armbruster says the US considers it has paid full and final compensation for the nuclear tests.

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