At the UN climate talks in Denmark small island states and poor African nations vulnerable to climate impacts have laid out demands for a legally-binding deal tougher than the Kyoto Protocol. This is opposed by richer developing states such as China, which fear tougher action would curb their growth. One of the concerned island nations is Kiribati. Its Copenhagen delegation is getting some help from British environmental campaigner Alex Randall, who offered his services to poor nations most affected by climate change. Marco Werman talks with Randall.
MARCO WERMAN: Alex Randall is in Copenhagen to help small developing countries get heard. Randall is a volunteer with a group called, Unfair Play. His organization examines data and climate maps produced by the UN's inter-governmental panel on climate change.
ALEX RANDALL: We looked at the countries which were most vulnerable to effects of climate change and also looked at the countries which weren't sending many negotiators to the Copenhagen conference. And what we found that some of the really, really vulnerable countries were actually almost unable to represent themselves at the negotiations simply because they couldn't send enough people to Copenhagen to go to all the meetings to read the documents to be everywhere they needed to be.
WERMAN: And so you basically offered two countries your services. Who are you helping?
RANDALL: Caribous and Nauru both of which are island states in the Pacific.
WERMAN: Right, how would Caribous be adversely effected by climate change?
RANDALL: There are multiple problems that they would have if global temperatures rise. The first one is essentially from rising sea levels. A lot of the Island of Caribous is only two meters above sea level so it doesn't really have to rise very much before they have serious problems. The second problem they face is as the sea levels do begin to rise salt water begins to get into their drinking water supply and that obviously causes enormous problems. The problem they have at the negotiations is that I can briefly describe what it's like here. There are probably 12 or 15 streams of negotiations going on all at once and they need to be in all those talks in order to
get the climate deal that's going to protect their people but with such a small delegation it's very hard for them to cover all those meetings and to represent themselves adequately. There are also hundreds of hundreds of documents that they need to read in order to prepare to go into the negotiations. So we take some of the strain off them by going to some of the sessions and taking notes so we can update them later, or sometimes just trawling through the thousands of pages of documentation that they need to understand before going into the talks.
WERMAN: We just heard the dividing lines between developing countries like Caribous but also Tuvalu and Sierra Leone, and other developing countries like India and China. I mean Caribous is a country with about 100,000. Their main exports are coconut and fish. I'm just wondering, do you think they're going to be some countries that end up by being like sacrificial lambs in order for other developing countries to emerge unscathed?
RANDALL: Well, let's hope not because I think what we really need at the end of Copenhagen is a deal that protects all nations however vulnerable or small they are. So for a country like Caribous, they really are on the front line of the front line. It's not just that they'll be adversely affected. It's they'll be one of the first countries to feel the effects. So I don't think that it's a really a viable position to say that we're going to sacrifice some nations in order to wake the world up to what's going on here.
WERMAN: Alex Randall in Copenhagen. Very good to speak with you. Thanks a lot.
RANDALL: Alright, thank you.