The fight for survival is heating up at the UN Climate Talks in Durban. Today, the ambassadors of Grenada, Seychelles, and Nauru joined a big crowd outside the official negotiations to call for bold and immediate action to cut emissions and safeguard the survival of people across the planet. 

“We are all islanders here in Durban,” said Ambassador Jumeau of the Seychelles. “If you cannot save the islands, you cannot save cities like Durban, or cities around the world.” 

This week, major emitters like the US and China have begun putting forward proposals to delay a new climate treaty until 2020. The delay would make it nearly impossible to reach the ambitious climate targets necessary to safeguard the survival of many small island states.

“I don’t have to tell you how high the stakes are for the people Ambassador Williams and I represent,” said Ambassador Marlene Moses of Nauru. “Nor do I have to relate that there is a strong push from the usual suspects to further delay action, which, if successful, would all but spell the end for many countries in my region.”

The demonstration was a sign of growing opposition to proposals from the US, EU, Brazil and China to delay any new climate treaty until after 2020. Scientists say that emissions must peak by 2015 in order to reach the goals of reducing carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million and avoiding a temperature increase of 1.5C.

“Delaying a new agreement or deeper targets until 2020, as some of the big emitters have proposed, is not an option,” Selwin Hart, lead negotiator for Barbados, told BBC News yesterday. “It is quite frankly a dereliction of our collective responsibility to present and future generations.”

Over the coming days, will be working with organizations and allies from around the world to support our island allies. They are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, the first of the 99% of us who will bear the impacts of climate change. 

“You are our conscience,” said Ambassador Williams told the crowd today. “And we will be your voice inside those halls.”