For many Pacific island nations climate change is not a problem of the future, it’s current reality. Kiribati has become famous for buying land in nearby countries preparing to resettle its population facing submergence in a policy they call “migration with dignity.” Fiji is dealing with climate-influenced diseases such as typhoid and dengue fever. King tides in the Marshall Islands destroy crops and submerge land on a regular basis. These nations may be small, but they the threat they are under is immense. Their leaders are heading to the UN climate talks with demands for change from the rest of the world.

Scientists who contributed to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that global sea levels have risen by about 19 centimetres (7.5 inches) since 1900. They say the levels are rising faster than average in the Western Pacific; ocean currents, winds and the gravity are all contributing to the uneven rise in this part of the world.

A major goal of the UN talks is to limit global warming in air temps to below 2 degrees Celsius. But Pacific island leaders say are pushing for a lower target of 1.5 degrees Celsius. They’re also raising questions about international responsibility and justice. The Pacific region is only responsible for a tiny fraction of greenhouse emissions, but is directly impacted by the effects of larger industrialized nations’ development and population growth.

Are these talks enough to save drowning Pacific island nations, or is the region as we know it doomed?

On today's episode, we speak to: 

Anote Tong
President, Kiribati

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez @earthguardianz
Indigenous climate change activist

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner @kathykijiner
Poet, environmental activist

Fenton Lutunatabua @350Pacific @fentonlutun
Pacific Communications coordinator

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.