COP 15 and Pacific Island states: A collective voice on climate change
Commentary: Pacific Island states battled to have their perspectives taken into account at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. Though widely accepted as being among the first victims of climate change, most developed countries, along with some emerging economies, put their own geopolitical interests ahead of what Pacific leaders argued was their right to survival as viable nations and cultures. The Pacific Island states negotiated collectively for shared goals, with Tuvalu often taking a leadership role. Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, pursued strategies at marked odds with their smaller neighbours. Papua New Guinea broke ranks with other island nations, concentrating overwhelmingly on forestry negotiations to the exclusion of other common objectives. The PNG delegation also pushed to weaken the safeguarding of indigenous rights in the draft text on forestry. Much of the civil society present in Copenhagen, however, gave vocal support for the position taken by the Pacific Island states. This article is based largely on interviews with delegates and commentators at COP 15 in December 2009.
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