Small Pacific island challenges Czech plans to extend power station


THE FEDERATED States of Micronesia are challenging plans to extend the Czech Republic’s biggest coal-fired power plant on the basis that they would be endangered by its prodigious carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The news came yesterday as representatives of other South Pacific island states made an emotional appeal at the Copenhagen climate summit for global CO2 emissions to be reduced to 350 parts per million, with the aim of limiting the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

Western Pacific Ocean Micronesia has asked the Czech authorities to carry out a transboundary environmental impact assessment of the plans by CEZ to extend its Prunerov coal-fired power station, which emits 10 million tonnes of CO2 a year – nearly twice as much as Moneypoint.

In what is believed to be the first such action taken on behalf of current or future climate change victims, Micronesia hopes to determine what impact the increase of emissions from the extended operation of the plant will have on the climate and on small Pacific island states.

Representatives of Papua New Guinea, Tonga and the Solomon Islands yesterday spelled out how they were already being hit by more severe storms and coastal erosion, using “Sinking Islands: the Pacific Voice – 1.5 [degrees] to Stay Alive” as their theme.

Noble Ma’afu, Tonga’s new minister for the environment and climate change, said the Pacific islands “may be small, but we speak from our heart . . . This is not an issue for the future, but something we’re struggling with now – and that’s why we’re in ‘Hopenhagen’.”

Climate change would affect their agriculture, fisheries and coral reefs, he told a press briefing.

“We need funding for adaptation now and into the future and also deep cuts in [CO2] emissions because no amount of money can reclaim our islands back from the sea”, Mr Ma’afu said.

A young female activist from the Solomon Islands, who said it had taken her three days to travel to Copenhagen on five planes, said: “I have witnessed the washing away of my shoreline – my island is slowly sinking – and so have my Pacific island sisters and brothers.”

Choking back her tears, Maylin Sesse said it was a “heartfelt thing”.

That’s why she was calling on the world leaders arriving here tomorrow to support the proposal by the Alliance of Small Island States for a maximum toleration of a 1.5 degree rise in temperatures.