Tuvalu is certainly qualifies as a small state - the collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean cumulatively account for 10 square miles of land area making it the third smallest state in the world, larger only than the Vatican City and Monaco.
Furthermore, the islands are called home by just short of 12,000 people - a number more than two times inferior than the number of people currently employed at the European Commission...
At its highest point, the country is only a little over four metres above sea-level and in places the island measures less than one mile from coast to coast. As a result successive Tuvaluan leaders have stated that their state will be the first victim of the rising sea level associated with global warming.
Despite their small size, they are making their message heard in a big way. Yesterday, their representative caused disruption to proceedings at the important UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen with what is now being referred to as the Tuvalu Proposal.
This proposal envisages deeper cuts in global emissions than those that are currently under discussion, demands the global temperature rise be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than 2 degrees currently being touted and that any agreement reached will be legally binding.
"We want a legally binging agreement," Mr Ielemia told MEPs. "All countries must make concrete pledges to reducing the effects of climate change".
Mr Ielemia spoke of the efforts his country is making to build up its natural defences and do its part in reducing emissions "even though they are tiny compared to those of other countries", and explicitly outright dismissed the possibility of any future resettlement of Tuvalu people.
"While Tuvalu faces an uncertain future because of climate change," he said, "it is our view that Tuvaluans will remain in Tuvalu."
"We will fight to keep our country, our culture and our way of living. We are not considering any migration scheme. We believe if the right actions are taken to address climate change, Tuvalu will survive."
Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), in response to Mr Ielemia's plea, said "we need a commitment of funds, not just words at Copenhagen."
"This reminder of the impacts of climate change could not come at a better time" he said. "You will not fight alone. We will fight with you".
Maurice Ponga (EPP, FR) spoke about the ever-present need to raise MEPs' awareness of the "daily crisis facing people on these islands", saying "let us find the funding so that the people of Tuvalu do not have to move."
Charles Goerens (ALDE, LU) argued that funding for fighting climate change should not be sent instead of existing Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments. "Funding for fighting climate change should be allocated in addition. The existing money for development is already insufficient and we risk not meeting the Millennium Developments Goals", he said.
Noting that Tuvalu had recently come top in the "Happy Planet Index", which measures the well-being of nations while taking account of their environmental impact, Isabelle Lövin (SE) on behalf of the Greens/EFA group said that "industrialised countries have to learn a lot from islands like Tuvalu about good living and the way of using our resources."
It was in a poorly-attended (just me) press conference this morning that GLOBE EU, a cross-party group of 33 MEPs representing 12 EU Member States, joined forces with 100 national parliamentarians from 19 EU Member States to make an impassioned plea for EU leaders to commit to a target of a 30% emissions cut for 2020 in Copenhagen.
The open letter signed by MEPs Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI), Vittorio Prodi (S&D, IT), Satu Hassi (Greens, FI) and my local MEP Graham Watson (ALDE, UK), urges negotiators in Copenhagen to commit themselves firmly to the 30% target saying "it is the right thing to do for the negotiations, and the best strategy for Europe's economy."
"The recession has not only lowered our emissions and thus bought us closer to a 30% goal; it has also brought the price of emission cuts down," the letter reads. "Now the 30% cut has the same price tag as the 20% reduction target of last year. We must use this opportunity."
GLOBE EU chair Ms Pietikäinen said: “One year ago, EU governments showed leadership by agreeing to a firm 20% emissions reduction target, and 30% if other developed countries joined the effort. Waiting for others to move is no longer proof of leadership.”
Mr Watson, vice-chair of GLOBE EU, added: “It is perfectly within our capacity to make the green energy switch, even at a time of economic difficulty. If we do so we will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, boost economic growth in quantity and quality and preserve the planet for our grandchildren.”
This week also saw the launch of a new policy paper by the group entitled "Breakthrough or breakdown? How the EU action could resolve the climate deadlock" which outlines a policy roadmap to deliver this target.
You can view this policy paper by clicking here.
Note: GLOBE EU is a cross-party group of MEPs with an interest in being closely engaged in shaping EU policy developments in the fields of environment, sustainability and global warming. Together they provide what their website describes as "a platform for the timely discussion of upcoming policy proposals and for co-ordinating political action within the European Parliament".
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