Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - Marshall Islands president on Wednesday appealed to the European Union to help persuade President Donald Trump to change course on climate change as her US-allied Pacific archipelago fears rising seas.
President Hilda Heine told the European Parliament that Trump was "at best misguided" when he pulled United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris agreement curbing greenhouse gases.
"In the coming three years before the US can legally withdraw, we all have a duty to work together to convince Trump of the importance of climate action," Heine told the assembly in Strasbourg, France.
"And we have compelling arguments and evidence to help change hearts and minds. Because of that I am cautiously optimistic and so are my people," she said.
The Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States in 1986, but provides Washington with weapons testing facilties, depends on US aid and uses the dollar.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads up the 28-nation EU executive, lent her his support.
He told the assembly that Heine's speech pointed up the need for action because "it is a matter of survival" for her island nation and the planet.
"We will not allow the denial of the very few to be the end of the days of the Marshall Islands," Juncker said.
Heine has warned that her low-lying archipelago will slip under the waves if every country and every economic sector in the world fails to take urgent action to cut carbon emissions.
- 'Disappointing and confusing' -
Curbing greenhouse gases emitted by burning coal, oil and gas can help limit temperature increases, the melting of ice caps, a rise in sea levels and reduce severe weather.
The United States under president Barack Obama and 194 other nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The Marshall Islands was among the first to ratify the treaty.
Trump, announcing the US exit from the agreement two weeks ago, said he wanted to escape an economic straitjacket that would hinder him from making good on his pro-growth agenda.
His decision produced a global backlash, not least because the US is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China.
Heine said Trump's decision was "disappointing and confusing for those of us that have long believed in the importance of US global leadership".
Only last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hailed the Marshall Islanders' contribution to the US armed forces and the backing they give Washington at the United Nations.