The sirens have sounded on climate change. Pacific islands are on the frontline and some are facing an existential threat to their very existence. The world will be watching what happens at the Copenhagen summit, but few are optimistic about the outcomes. This briefing paper canvases the most important aspects of the debate in a Pacific context: the human impact of climate change, and how adaptation measures should be about meeting existing and future development challenges. The peoples of the Pacific have a long history of adapting to change. This time, however, the challenge is global and there will need to be a sustained and co-operative effort by the world’s leaders to tackle it.