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Several small island states on Wednesday asked developing economies like India and China to contribute more on the fight against global warming, including pledging legally binding emission cuts, and limit the rise in average temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius.
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which together contribute only 0.3 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, are the most vulnerable to climate change effects, with them facing the risk of being submerged by rising sea-level.
Noting that both India and China did not want to accept the 1.5-degree limit, Palau President Johnson Toribiong said, "the two countries should not be used as an excuse by the rest of the world in not accepting the demand."
The demand comes even as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change allows a two-degree Celsius rise warning that certain island countries like Tuvalu faces threat only if the average temperature rises above this level.
When asked about the south Asian countries' overriding priorities to tackle poverty and boost economic growth, Toribiong told PTI, "Yes they should (take legally binding cuts). What about their future generations who will suffer?"
However, it is not only the G77 that wants to keep the limit to two degree Celsius; the developed world wants the same leaving AOSIS countries isolated on this point.
Urging India and China to provide technology and finance to poor countries, Toribiong said his country, made up of 200 islands in the Pacific Ocean, was facing the "wrath of nature."
"Threats of rising sea-level is similar to a tsunami moving in slow motion that would swallow up low-lying islands and wipe them off the earth forever," he said.
The Palau President was joined by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Edward Nipake Natapei, and they jointly appealed to rich countries to seal the deal in Copenhagen or the small island states would not "survive".
"We appeal to the developed world to listen to our needs. It is a matter of survival for us," Natapei said, pointing out that his country in the South Pacific "sits on the ring of fire" hit by cyclones.
"We were forced to relocate an entire village and we will be relocating another village soon," he said.
In the first week of negotiations, the island state of Tuvalu proposed a new protocol that calls on emerging economies like India and China to take binding cuts on their carbon emissions and limiting temperature rise to 1.5 C.
Close on its heels came a draft for a 'Copenhagen Protocol' submitted by AOSIS members that puts tough obligations on emerging economies like reporting national voluntary measures but does not call for binding cuts.