The average temperatures increased already about 1.1°C and will continue to rise, impacting human health and affecting agricultural output and food security.
Ocean acidification has increased and will increase further with 1.5°C of global warming, affecting the health of reef ecosystems, where survival is essential for local fishing and the livelihood of communities. Moreover, damages to coral reefs will exacerbate coastal erosion, as they act as the first line of defense against storm surges and strong waves.
The global trend of rising seas will have the most severe consequences in the Pacific: it is posing a threat not only to the habitability of small island nations but to their very existence and survival as a nation. In Tuvalu, for example, the sea level has increased by approximately 13.2cm from 1993 to 2021 with a trend of 4.7mm per year.
Moreover, sea-level rise coupled with storm surges and “king tides” exacerbates coastal inundation and the potential for increased saltwater intrusion, affecting the already fragile water security of Pacific people and communities. In Kiribati, for instance, where the land surface is nowhere any higher than 2-3 meters above the sea level, ocean waves have been as high as 3.5 meters in the last five years.
Rising seas are also eroding coastal areas, causing shorelines to retreat, forcing small island states to invest in reconstruction actions and preventative climate change adaptation. All these are highly costly and put enormous pressure on their national budgets.
In addition, land loss due to coastal erosion or disappearing islands will lead to land disputes and conflicts over marine resources. The reduction of available land will likely also cause a contraction of Pacific Small Island Developing States exclusive economic zone (EEZs), essential for regional stability and resource management.
The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will have severe consequences on small island nations, which, due to their geography, are the most vulnerable to the impacts of cyclones, king tides and other natural hazards. Their likely impact includes the destruction of housing villages and infrastructures and damages to agriculture and other livestock livelihoods. All these scenarios create conditions that could increase the violence on women and children.