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Oceania - Climate Change

Climate change is the greatest threat to Pacific Island countries. Donald Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax during his election campaign and vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Trump repeatedly said during his campaign that climate change was a hoax created by China.

There are two main kinds of islands in the Pacific Ocean: high islands and low islands. Communities of people on both kinds of islands have homes, grow food, go fishing, and drink fresh water. The fresh water that they have comes from the rain that falls on their island. One kind of rain happens everywhere: over the open ocean, on low islands, and on high islands. This kind of rain happens because the air has so much water vapor in it that when the air rises above the ocean surface into the cooler air above, the water vapor condenses, forms clouds, and then precipitates. This is called convective rain. High islands cause a second type of rain. When warm humid air is forced to rise up the slopes of a high island the cool air it encounters causes the water vapor to condense, making clouds and rain. This is called orographic rain.

Low islands are usually made of coral sand and gravel. Low islands do not cause humid air to condense because they do not extend into the cold air at high elevations. The main source of freshwater on a low island comes from rainstorms that move across the ocean and happen to pass over the island.

The Pacific Community said 22 November 2016 the election of Trump caused concern in the region over the United States' commitment to fighting climate change. However, the director general of the Pacific Community or SPC, Colin Tukuitonga, said he expects to continue working with the US to mitigate climate change in the region. "I think it's important to point out that the USA is a founding member of SPC and has been with us since 1947 and we expect to continue the good work that has been done with the support of the US government both in climate change and other areas".

The countries taking part in the January 2017 Tokyo meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum included the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In the context of sustainable development, Pacific island countries were also seeking Japan's support through the World Bank for an expansion of the definition of "fragility" to include vulnerability to climate change, economic equity, access, and geographical and environmental challenges.

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