10 Sep 2013

Pacific climate change outlook bleak, says academic

4:33 pm on 10 September 2013

A climate change academic says the prognosis for small island states in the long-term is not good, and is getting bleaker by the decade.

Pacific leaders made a commitment at the Pacific Islands Forum to urgently cut green house gas emissions and become leaders in the fight to combat climate change.

Many of the island nations promise to be using at least 50 percent renewable energy by 2020, and some want to join Tokelau and aim for 100 percent.

The director of Victoria University's post-graduate programme in environmental studies, Dr Ralph Chapman, says the next five years is crucial for the world, but the long-term outlook is pretty bleak.

"Obviously sea level rise is a major one, more intense storms, flooding, I see the Majuro international runway was flooded recently, their main international runway was subject to flooding. So there's intense problems like that, that are only going to get worse, and we do have to look at relocation for a number of Pacific Island populations. That is a long term concern for many Pacific island communities."

Dr Ralph Chapman says it's the biggest countries that will make the biggest difference, but they are not doing enough.