Small island nations are especially alarmed by the results of the UN climate conference, making the point that they don't have time for small, incremental steps to slow global warming. The crisis has reached their homes. Negotiators declined to commit to taking immediate action to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius above preindustrial levels. "The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us," Maldives' environmental minister said. They plan to take the issue up again next year. "What is balanced and pragmatic to other parties will not help the Maldives adapt in time," Aminath Shauna said, per the Washington Post. "It will be too late for the Maldives."
Before it adjourned, the European Union’s climate chief had warned the conference that the situation is critical for some nations already, per US News & World Report. Frans Timmermans said there's urgency for low-lying Pacific islands and other nations vulnerable to flooding now, "because you're standing with your feet in the water." That's how Tuvalu’s foreign minister tried to get his message across to the conference, per the Sydney Morning Herald—sending a video of his speech delivered in a business suit while standing in ocean water past his knees. "We cannot wait for speeches," Simon Kofe says, "when the sea is rising around us all the time."
Tuvalu and other at-risk countries are preparing for the worst, even as they press their case to larger nations. Kofe talked about people having to leave behind their homes and incomes because of the changes. Tuvalu and other island nations are pursing legal and diplomatic paths to keep their homes sovereign countries even if they're underwater in 50 to 100 years. The nations' negotiators in Glasgow, many of whom traveled for several days to get there, are exhausted by their effort, per New Scientist. "We are a group of very small countries that don't have a significant amount of political leverage," said a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, which includes 39 nations. "But we have strength in numbers and the moral high ground—though that's sometimes not enough." (Read more UN climate summit stories.)