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Pacific at greatest risk from climate change, Dictus says

Thursday, December 20, 2007

THE Pacific islands, including Fiji, face the greatest risk of becoming poor and getting displaced from their homes as a result of climate change.

United Nations Development Programme resident representative Richard Dictus made the comment at the launch of the report on Human Development, Fighting Climate Change yesterday.

The report warns climate change can result in annual damage costs of up to seven per cent of the gross domestic product of Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu.

"A high island such as Viti Levu could experience average annual economic losses from disruption to social services and infrastructure of $US23 to $US52 million by 2050, equivalent to two to four per cent GDP," he said.

Mr Dictus said in Fiji, half of the population lived within 60-kilometres of the shore, with 90 per cent of villages located on the coast. He said sea level rise may threaten village livelihoods, and traditional settlement patterns, as people may have to move away from their customary land to higher ground.

"Many coastal communities in the Pacific could be seriously affected by rising sea levels and flooding caused by global temperature increases of three-four degrees,' said Mr Dictus.

The report highlights that in the Pacific, carbon dioxide emission has annually changed from between 1990 to 2004 by 2.3 per cent in Fiji, 0.1 per cent in Papua New Guinea, 1.5 per cent in Samoa, 0.6 per cent in the Solomon Islands, 3.7 per cent in Tonga and 2.4 per cent in Vanuatu.

"On the global scale, Pacific islanders are negligible polluters but they will be the first to suffer from the effects of climate change," he said.