This article briefly outlines the cause of global warming, its trends and consequences as indicated by the International Panel on Climate Change. Sea-level rise is one consequence of particular concern to Pacific island states. It also reviews the views of economists about connections between economic growth and global warming. Whereas the majority of economists did not foresee a conflict between economic growth and global warming, the possibility of such a conflict is now more widely recognized following the Stern Report. International efforts, such as through the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentration are discussed and prospects for post-Kyoto policies are considered. It is predicted that a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to be achieved in the foreseeable future due to conflicting national interest (a prisoners’ dilemma problem) and because it will take time to develop new technologies which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, payment for greenhouse gas emissions (for example, via tradable permits) will accelerate desirable technological advance. Both international political action and efforts to develop and use technologies that lower greenhouse gas emissions need to be pursued. Given current and likely increases in greenhouse gas emissions, continuing global warming in this century appears to be inevitable and consequently Pacific island states will be adversely affected by sea-level rise and climate change. How they will be affected and to what extent is discussed together with their ability to cope with the emerging problem. Ways are also examined of addressing the consequences for Pacific island states of global warming.


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