Permanent Mission of the Federated States of Micronesia to the United Nations

Ambassador Nakayama Expresses Alarm to United States Congress Over Threat of Abrupt Climate Change

Washington, D.C. (FSM Permanent Mission to the UN): 27 February 2008 - His Excellency Ambassador Masao Nakayama, FSM's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, appeared before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to testify at a hearing on climate change. In an unprecedented departure from the Committee's normal practice, the Honorable Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, Chairman of the Subcommittee, invited the United Nations Ambassadors to testify. Ambassador Nakayama, along with representatives from Nauru, Samoa, Fiji, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands appeared before the Subcommittee. Dr. Harlan Watson, a lead Climate Change negotiator for the U.S. State Department, testified on behalf of the U.S. Government.

Speaking as the voice of the inhabitants of the Micronesian islands, Ambassador Nakayama stated that the Federated States of Micronesia is already among the first victims of the adverse impacts of climate change. He went on to say that "prompt and effective actions are needed to save the vulnerable homelands of the people of Micronesia."

Ambassador Nakayama referred to the warning by Dr. James Hansen of NASA, that as soon as ten years from now, if actions are not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world might pass a "tipping point" resulting in abrupt, rather than gradual climate change, at which point the process would be irreversible. As the only sensible precaution against such dire consequences, especially for the islands, Ambassador Nakayama stressed the importance of proceeding with "fast track" measures of adaptation and mitigation. Important among these are strengthening actions that already are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, he said.

Nakayama pointed to FSM's climate change initiatives at the international level, specifically its recent submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on suggested pathways to be considered under the Bali Action Plan. On the bilateral level, he urged that the upcoming US Congressional five-year review of the Compact of Free Association be utilized as an opportunity to incorporate climate adaptation and mitigation measures in the Compact funding provisions. He argued that, "since Micronesia is already experiencing the impacts of global warming, the shared interests of the FSM and the US in the long-term stability and security of the Region virtually mandate such bilateral cooperation".

Referring to what he perceived to be an "extended struggle with the social and economic impacts of climate change," Nakayama enumerated potential areas of impact. These would include submergence of atolls and coastal areas, displacement of populations and loss of agricultural and food crops. In addition, rising ocean levels and temperatures will cause the death of our protective coral reefs compromising vital ecosystems and food sources, and loss of habitats for animals, birds and turtles. Not to be overlooked, as atolls disappear, is the shrinking of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the FSM (EEZ), which is intrinsic to the Nation's sovereignty and economic livelihood.

In his testimony, Nakayama went on to say "even as we meet here, the people out there in the islands are asking why the signs they always depend on to predict the whether are no longer accurate; why tides are surging further inland [...] why more coconuts are coming out deformed [...] why fruits are falling off before they are matured [...] why the sunlight seemed to be harsher and the air warmer [...] why leaves appear less green."

Calling on the United States to provide leadership on climate change, Ambassador Nakayama said, "this great Nation, the United States of America, can provide such positive leadership. The rest of the world expects it, the vulnerable Micronesian islanders yearn for it. We respectfully ask this Congress, in this Session, to take action."

The FSM had a strong supporter at the Hearing, the Honorable Representative Diane Watson, who has previously served as Ambassador of the United States to the FSM and is now a member of the US Congress. She said she has personally seen the effects of climate change in the FSM and expressed strong concerns for its beautiful islands.

Assisting Ambassador Nakayama in preparation for the Hearing were the Office of Environment and Emergency Management (EEM); the FSM Embassy in DC; the Office of Statistics, Budget, Overseas Development Assistance, and Compact Management (SBOC); the Department of R&D as well as the Director of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement.