Marshall Islands declares national climate crisis

Traveling to the Marshall Islands (Majuro, Ebeye, Ejit) with Foreign Minister Tony deBrum for a Coral Davenport story.

SEA LEVEL RISE IN THE MARSHALL ISLANDS. Ejit (center with buildings on it), an islet in the Majuro atoll. The ocean side is at top, and the lagoon side is behind. Ejit is home to past residents of Bikini atoll who were relocated when the U.S. military decided to detonate test nuclear bombs during the Cold War. Now, under threat of further sea level rise, residents of Ejit are looking to move. Under a 1986 compact between the United States and the Marshall Islands, residents can immigrate freely to the United States. Original Filename: DJI_0007.DNG * CREDIT: Josh Haner/The New York Times NYTCREDIT: Josh Haner/The New York Times

Aerial view of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Josh Haner/The New York Times 

The Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean on Friday declared a national climate crisis as a low-lying coral atoll nation.

The country’s parliament, known as Nitijela, passed a resolution making the fight against climate change its top priority on Sept. 26.

The resolution declared the fight against climate change as the current and future government’s top priority, according to a document of the resolution posted by President Hilda Heine on her Twitter account.

The Marshall Islands, a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and low-lying coral atolls, all less than two metres from sea level, face the most risk from the effects of climate change due to the low elevation and topographic situation of these islands.

The risks include inundation due to sea-level rise or destruction due to extreme weather conditions.

The resolution says the responsibility for the climate crisis lies with the international community, but those countries that were most responsible have had an inadequate response.

The country is struggling to finance its response to the climate crisis, the resolution notes.

The resolution asks the international community to consider ways to respond to and support “the extreme vulnerability and special circumstances faced by the low-lying coral atoll nations’’ in their fight against climate change.

In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2018, small-island states were identified as being at the forefront of the battle against climate change, with four atoll nations facing the greatest risk to include Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives, and the Marshall Islands.