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UN leader travels to Pacific to see climate change firsthand

Antonio Guterres Antonio Guterres | Photo: AP.

May 15, 2019 04:23 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that he's traveling to three South Pacific island nations to see the effects of climate change firsthand.

Speaking in Fiji, the U.N. leader said he wanted to learn about the work being undertaken by island communities to bolster resilience. He said the Pacific needs stronger international support because climate change is taking place faster than efforts to address it.

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"The last four years were the hottest on record. The loss of ice in Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating, meaning that sea levels will rise a full meter (over 3 feet) by 2100 if nothing is done to avoid it," Guterres said. "Here in the Pacific, sea-level rise in some countries is four times greater than the global average and is an existential threat to some island states."

Guterres said island nations should speak out.

"As we look ahead, your voices will remain crucial in global negotiations," he said. "Your experiences underscore the urgency of the threat, and the Pacific has a unique moral authority to speak out. It is time for the world to listen."

Guterres made the comments at a meeting with officials from the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji's capital.

He also plans to visit the island nations of Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

His trip comes ahead of the Climate Action Summit that he plans to convene in September in New York.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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