Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Island Nations Lead Charge to Cut Super Greenhouse Gas Under Ozone Treaty

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): July 22, 2009 - Geneva, Switzerland, July 18, 2009 - A group of vulnerable island States formally announced today that they are co-sponsoring a proposal to phase down "super greenhouse gases" known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty.

This broader group of island States joined the initiative of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Mauritius. FSM and Mauritius were the original proponents of curbing HFC emissions under the Montreal Protocol, a fast-acting treaty that can reduce climate impacts, including the risk of rising sea levels.

The island States co-sponsoring the FSM-Mauritius proposal include the Seychelles, Kiribati, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Comoros, Madagascar, and Palau. In addition, South Africa expressed support on behalf of the African Group for continuing discussions of the climate issues raised by FSM and Mauritius.

"HFCs present a significant threat to the world's efforts to stabilize climate emissions, said Dr. Guus Velders of The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency who presented new scientific findings to the Parties in Geneva. Dr. Velders added, "Because of the projected growth of these climate warming chemicals, they could represent up to 45% of total global CO2 emissions by 2050 under a scenario that stabilizes CO2 emissions at 450 ppm. Preventing strong growth in HFC use is an important climate mitigation option the world has now." Dr. Velders was the lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month.

Manny Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said:

"We have already lost so much time by failing to address climate change quickly enough that it would be unconscionable to allow the enormous growth of super-potent warming agents such as HFCs. To solve climate change, we need to use all the tools in the box, and since we have a mechanism at our disposal that would allow us to phase-down HFCs, it would be negligent not to employ it."

Antonio Oposa, lead negotiator for the Federated States of Micronesia at this week's Montreal Protocol meetings in Geneva, said:

"We have growing support for the proposal, but there is still a long, hard battle ahead to convince the Europeans and others that is better to tackle HFCs today under the Montreal Protocol rather than waiting to try and do it under the new climate treaty now being negotiated. Under Montreal we know that the issue will receive the attention it deserves. We know our chances of success will go up dramatically with U.S. support and strongly encourage them to commit their full resources to supporting an immediate phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. We've already written to President Obama to ask for his leadership."

The Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of the Fiji Islands, and Papua New Guinea also joined in sending the letter to President Obama.

Sateeaved Seebaluck, head of the Mauritius delegation, said:

"Islands don't have the time to wait for the outcomes of the climate negotiations. Rising sea levels will destroy our countries if we do not take action now. We have a successful treaty right in front of us that has already phased out 96 chemicals by 97%. There is no excuse not to use this valuable framework to tackle HFCs as well."

These countries are comprised of nearly 800 islands and have a population of more than 29 million people.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356