PARIS, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The British government said it is making millions of dollars of funding available to Pacific island nations under threat from climate change.
"Britain is firmly committed to helping these countries deal with the effects of climate change and that's why we're announcing new support to help protect them from the risks of climate change and to make the most of their natural maritime advantages which are so vital to their economies," British Prime Minister David Cameron said from Paris.
International leaders are meeting in Paris to work on an agreement aimed at abating climate change. If successful, it would be the first such agreement since the Kyoto Protocol was established more than 20 years ago.
Countries like the Marshall Islands have become the symbol for the threats faced by Pacific island nations. In 2011, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology found the nation's territorial sea levels were rising at a rate of about a quarter-inch per year. The average height of the islands is about 6 feet above sea level.
Already, it is experiencing the effects of climate change, mostly from rising sea levels which have caused flooding and inundation of crops.
Cameron's government said it would provide about $8.4 million in funding next year to tap into maritime resources "to catalyze economic development in a sustainable way across Commonwealth countries."
The Asian Development Bank last year said the region's heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels leaves it particularly vulnerable to foreign markets. The bank said regional investments of more than $500 million could support a low-carbon transition.