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Rising waters: Would BC benefit from showing solidarity with island countries? | COP28: climate summit in Dubai

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Dec18,2023

Rising waters: would BC benefit from showing solidarity with island countries? | COP28: climate summit in Dubai

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For years, the leaders of the small state of Kiribati have been warning about the consequences of climate change for their archipelago: the increase of the ocean level will lead to its disappearance.


Voice synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from a written text.

With its more than 25,000 kilometers of coastline and its string of islands standing out from the coast, British Columbia should- Should we learn lessons from the climate destiny of island nations?

We will not disappear silently into a flooded grave, insisted the representative of the Marshall Islands, John Silk, at COP28, seeing the first versions of the draft agreement on climate change, which has since been modified and approved.

Island states, such as Tuvalu, Dominica and the Marshall Islands, are uniting their voices, at international conference after international conference, to remind us that rising water levels resulting from global warming are a matter of life and death for the populations of these countries.

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The Tuvalu Islands, with a population of around 11,000 people, are among the places that could disappear with rising seas. (File photo)

I have been to several COPs and I have heard these nations declare that they are on the front lines and that they will pay with their identity, specifies the Minister of the Environment of British Columbia, Georges Heyman, back of his visit to COP 28 in Dubai. I heard the same thing from BC First Nations and coastal communities.

COP28&nbsp ;: climate summit in Dubai

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In the view of Shelley Luce, campaign director of the province's Sierra Club, the province's geographic location should be a significant factor in its position, even if it does not face the same risks of disappearance: I believe we must identify with these island nations. We have the coasts, but also on the continental side densely populated areas very close to sea level.

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The coast of British Columbia, which stretches over more than 25,000 kilometers, is dotted with islands, fjords and coves which creates several small marine ecosystems which could be greatly affected by rising water levels.

Several regions are particularly exposed to the effects of rising waters, such as the majority of islands along the coast, Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver itself, which is located on the Fraser River delta, explains Gilles Wendling, hydrogeologist.

For the islands and areas near the sea, these are often regions where there is a high human concentration because people like to be by the sea, he specifies, qualifying however that the province does not x27;is not strictly insular, with a large part of the surface being continental.

The speeches in the international arena of the Alliance of Small Island States, in addition to the real risks of seeing their territories disappear, focus, among other things, on the human and economic cost of rising water levels and coastal erosion. .

Speech that Georges Heyman, the provincial Minister of the Environment, also hears in the region: There is a lot of concern on the part of First Nations and coastal communities about the future, about the marine life on which much of their food and economy is based.

Research in collaboration with First Nations (New window) is underway to better protect salmon in areas of Vancouver Island, such as the Englishman River estuary, to cope with rising water levels.

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The territory on which the city of Richmond is built is near the water level and is particularly exposed to the risks of rising water levels, according to Gilles Welding.

Some areas at high risk have significant infrastructure on their territory, such as the airport in Richmond, which is located near sea level, and several sewer systems, according to Gilles Wendling.

British Columbia also recommends that these coastal cities prepare for a 1 meter rise in water levels by the end of the century, and 2 meters in 2200.

Island states, in addition to presenting their advocacy for decades on the international stage to rally the public to their cause, are adopting a wide range of strategies to deal with climate disruption. They report voluntary relocation programs for their populations, the elevation of islands or the construction of floating structures to coexist with rising water levels. Should we therefore take inspiration from the climate adaptation policy of these States?

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A woman bathing with a child in Funafuti, Tuvalu. The inhabitants of Tuvalu are particularly vulnerable to climate change, with their territory at risk of disappearing.

The first thing is to accept the effects of climate change and integrate them into all our infrastructure designs, explains Gilles Wendling.

Victoria, for her part, ensures that she remains on the lookout for new solutions, such as those put forward by island states, and that Gatherings like those at COP 28 allow us to share ideas.

The fact that First Nations come together at these international conferences and exchange their experiences and knowledge enriches the opportunities to better protect people here in British Columbia, underlines Minister Georges Heyman for his part.

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Alex Grzybowski is hopeful that COP 28 is also an opportunity to share solutions between nations facing similar challenges .

For Alex Grzybowski, a specialist in conflict resolution and prevention, who assisted the First Nations delegation during its participation in COP28, he The situation of these island nations should also be seen as a warning, especially for communities whose territories are near water: They are closer to the precipice than we are. Canada has a habit of talking a lot and only acting once we have both feet in a crisis. When we focus on the crisis they are experiencing, we realize that we can take action to prevent this crisis.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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