climate change in the pacific

forthcoming, American Anthropologist (2020):

“Why Pacific Islanders Stopped Worrying about the Apocalypse

and Started Fighting Climate Change”

This article questions the hierarchical assumptions of theories of “traveling models” by examining how politicians and environmental activists from the three major regions of the Pacific have contributed to global climate change policy regimes. The Marshall Islands successfully lobbied the international climate change community to ensure that the signatories to the Paris Agreement are committed to keeping the global temperature rise during the current century to “well below” 2°C, while “pursuing efforts” to limit the average temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. In its role as the host of the twenty-third annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Fiji drew on the self-scaling Pacific speech genre of talanoa to facilitate dialogue and cooperation between the signatories to the Paris Agreement. The successful institution of Talanoa Dialogues at UN climate change meetings was not just a branding exercise, but an ideological project of encompassment. Although the Solomon Islands has a lower international profile, its responses to climate change suggest new ways of thinking about the relationship between local environmental knowledge and scientific models, and provides valuable feedback on new forms of aid focused on adaptation. [climate change, talanoa, traveling theory, Pacific Islands, United Nations]

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