19 Oct 2009

Scientist at climate change conference in Majuro wants focus on adaptation

8:15 pm on 19 October 2009

The Pacific Regional Environment Programme's head says adapting to climate change impacts is a key priority for the survival of Pacific islands that are endangered by rising sea levels.

David Sheppard told the opening of a climate change workshop in Majuro in the Marshall Islands today that adaptation has to remain the key priority for decades to come, during which more will be learned about specific impacts.

He says better science and observation is needed in the region and this must be applied to the development of useful practical strategies.

The conference is aimed at developing a Pacific Islands strategy for the global climate change meeting to be held in December in Copenhagen.

Professor Patrick Nunn, a climate change researcher at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, who is chairing the meeting, says those islands threatened with being obliterated by rising sea levels, should seek relocation aid at the UN conference.

Mitigation and adaptation projects are being proposed to withstand sea level rise, but Mr Nunn says there are no real options, apart from moving, for the people on many of the low lying islands.