UPDATED: February 13, 2013, at Columbia U. School of Law, The United Nations Climate Negotiations: Perspectives From a Small Island Nation’ with the Marshall Islands made it clear that this is a matter for the UN Security Council. That is why it will be taken up this Friday in an Arria formula type of informative – fast-scheduled meeting.
Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item,’Upcoming Event –
The United Nations Climate Negotiations: Perspectives From a Small Island
Nation’ – our update is after the event and before moving the outcome to the UN Security Council – Friday February 15, 2013.
On Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, the Center for Climate
Change Law will host a discussion with Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to
the President of the Marshall Islands and former Foreign Minister, and Dr.
Radley Horton, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, focused
on the UN Climate Negotiations from […]
Info: The United Nations Climate Negotiations: Perspectives From a Small Island Nation
Date/Time: February 13, 2013 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm EST
Location: Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall room 101, 435 West 116th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue)
The February 13, 2013 event at the Columbia University School of Law – was in effect a dry-run of what will be presented to the UN Security Council on Friday Februaruy 15, 2013 in an Arias format meeting – that is in an information gathering session – a closed meeting of the UNSC that will dash out the issue of climate change endangering the security of the people of the Marshall Islands in particular and of all small island States of the Pacific. Further the problem of climate change caused flooding of coastal areas, tsunamis, and the probable wiping out of whole populations will be on the UN table.
An Araias is not a negotiation that expects an outcome – it is plain information gathering that can later lead to discussions that come before attempts at decision making.
The Ambassador Representing the Republic of the Marshall Islands at the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Amatlain Elizabeth Kabua, was present at the Columbia University’s Center for Climate Change Law event.
Professor Michael B. Gerrard, head of the Center, has already produced several volumes of study of the problems posed by a budding Climate Change impacts legal system dealing with “Threatened Island Nations” and “The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change – US and International Aspects” – both being titles of appropriate volumes.
At the meeting on Wednesday, Prof. Gerrard introduced the general problem of Climate Change, Judge Jack B. Weinstein, US District Court, Eastern District of New York, introduced legal aspects, Professor Radley Horton of the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, spoke of the scientific aspects, with Tony deBrum of the Marshall Islands President’s office and former Foreign Minister describing the legal situation aspects of the Marshall islands and the impact the US had on those islands, and students and others fielding many questions.
Professor Horton showed a graph of sea level rise 1870-2006 by Church & White from UNEP (2006), and material from the US National Climate Assessment (2013) dealing with “Hawaii and Affiliated Lands.”
My eye caught here indication about VERTICAL LAND MOTIONS which a couple of years ago we attributed to the melting of the ice-cover of Antarctica and a release of pressure on the Antarctic plate that reaches to the “Ring of Fire” of volcanoes and earth-quakes on its border with other tectonic plates. We suggested the movement causes earth-quakes that cause the tsunamis that flood coastlines and islands – thus this whole set of events being Climate Change related. The issue explains thus enhanced flooding that impacts countries like Bangladesh. At the end of the meeting I had a chance to talk about this with Mr. deBrum of the Marshall Islands who will be the main presenter at the Arias meeting at the UN Security Council. We will revisit this later.
The case of the Marshall Islands is particularly bad and the responsibility of the United States is particularly great – this going back to the many nuclear experiments that for a couple of years were detonating powerful bombs in the Bikini and other island locations. The destruction of those islands started already at that time – now it is continued with the attacks of climate change greenhouse gas emissions.
As the Marshall Islands is a State with few inhabitants, the answer to move them somewhere else is not acceptable to the islanders. They prefer compensation and the condtruction of physical barriers. They also have suggestions for Renewable energy production using commercial OTEC technology (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion). The first 20 MW floating OTEC electric generation plant will be completed by 2017.
In my discussion with Mr. deBrum I suggested getting States like Bangladesh and other States of large population involved, as the Security Council has to hear about large number of people being affected in order to move them to action – and the mentioned Tsunami-effect ought to be pushed forward. I mentioned to him the Washington military-people event when a Brigadier-General from Bangladesh asked – “when 10 million people moving to higher ground because of the floods, get to the Indian border, which way am I supposed to shoot,” that was a moment of truth that an Arias meeting at the UNSC can start worrying about.