Countries pledge to reduce production of fossil fuels during Morocco talks
A Moroccan soldier stands guard outside the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakesh on November 14. (AFP/File)
Forty-seven countries that are the most vulnerable to climate change on Friday pledged to switch their energy production as quickly as possible to renewable sources.
The decision was adopted at climate talks in Marrakesh, Morocco, where negotiators have been hammering out the details of last year's agreement to keep global temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to stay below 1.5 degrees.
The countries that have pledged to withdraw from fossil fuels production belong to the Climate Vulnerable Forum and are committed to ensuring the 1.5-degree goal is met.
"We are pioneering the transformation towards 100-per-cent renewable energy, but we want other countries to follow in our footsteps in order to evade catastrophic impacts we are experiencing through hurricanes, flooding and droughts," said Mattlan Zackhras, minister-in-assistance to the president of the Marshall Islands.
The Marshall Islands is a low-lying island nation whose territory is threatened by rising sea waters caused in part from melting ice caps because of global warming. The World Meteorological Organization said earlier this week that 2016 is expected to be the hottest on record.
Countries adopting a document in Marrakesh, including the Marshall Islands, said they would attempt to completely phase out fossils fuels by bolstering renewable energy production as soon as possible.
"Renewable energy can overcome poverty and improve people's livelihoods. I therefore welcome Tanzania's commitment to join the other most vulnerable countries in going to 100-per-cent renewable energy," Tanzania's chair of its parliamentary energy body, Doto Biteko, said in a statement.
The countries also said they would update their national plans to decrease emissions, submitted under the 2015 Paris Agreement, as early as possible before 2020, in an effort to push for quicker global action to combat climate change.
"Today's commitment by the member countries of the Climate Vulnerable Forum to move towards powering their economies entirely with renewable energy is a bold vision that sets the pace for the world's efforts to implement the Paris Agreement and move even more quickly to solve the climate crisis," said former US vice president Al Gore in a statement.
European Union Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete also welcomed the move, saying that it showed moral leadership.
"These countries are already living the terrifying reality of climate change today," Canete said, "and their very existence is on the line."
By Jessica Camille Aguirre