Call for Pacific Islands Forum to act on climate change ABC RADIO AUSTRALIA
Updated Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:29am AEST
**Great to have Pele here in Australia at the moment and we spent yesterday (Sunday) with her and Royden, Moi, Fatiaki and Tera - we will be there to hear her speak in Brisbane on Tuesday night at the Brisbane City Hall. This is one of the many radio interviews and public speaking engagements she has done while here - GOOD ON YOU PELE - WE ARE ALL VERY PROUD OF YOU REPRESENTING OUR BANABAN COMMUNITY AT THESE VERY IMPORTANT EVENTS!**
Oxfam and Greenpeace have launched the final phase of their push to get the Pacific Islands Forum to endorse strong action on climate change. Voices from the Frontline is a speaking tour which aims to give Pacific community leaders an opportunity to tell the Australian public how climate change is affecting their people, and to get Australians to lobby the Rudd Government. The tour visits Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane before arriving in Cairns to co-incide with the Pacific Island Forum early next month.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Speaker: Pelenisi Alofa, Kiribati; Julie Anne Richards, Oxfam Australia's Climate Change Co-ordinator; Reverend Tafue Lusama, Chairman of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network
Listen: Windows Media
GARRETT: It was no holds barred from the Pacific speakers at Voices from the Frontline. Pelenisi Alofa from Kiribati spoke first.
ALOFA: We are in a crisis moment right now, Pacific low-lying atoll islands, especially Kiribati, FSM Islands, Tuvalu. That's why I'm here this evening. I am here to tell you that my parents, my children, my grandchildren and the rest of my family, my country is being threatened by climate change.
GARRETT: Speakers told of stronger cyclones wiping out roads and vegetation, of salt inundation of drinking water and crops, of relatively new infrastructure that's now covered with water at high tide, of damaged reefs and sea walls and of longer droughts. They also had their own more personal stories. Pelenisi Alofa again:
ALOFA: I rent a house in Tarawa, Kiribati, it's a three-bedroom house, but when it's high tide the water seeps under the sand and washed and it's collected in the front of my yard. Water when at high tide, that's what's happening Kiribati right now, and it's happening to everybody.
GARRETT: Speakers from the Pacific and from Australia called on leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to agree to make cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions of 40 per cent by 2020. That's in line with what scientists have recommended if small atoll nations are to survive, and what's been demanded by some Pacific leaders and the alliance of small island states. As the clamour for action on climate change gets louder, international non-government organisations are also coming in behind a 40 per cent target. Julie Anne Richards, Oxfam Australia's Climate Change Co-ordinator told the meeting Australia should double its funding to help the Pacific cope with climate change and lift its total contribution to climate change adaptation in the developing world to 4.3 billion dollars a year.
RICHARDS: It is a large figure but it's what we need if we're going to prevent catastrophic climate change. Four-point-three-billion dollars to put it in perspective is roughly the same amount of permits that the government is planning giving to big polluters in the carbon pollution reduction scheme, rather than selling to them. So if the government were to choose to sell permits in the Emissions Trading Scheme that it's currently proposing rather than giving them away to big polluters, it could raise that scale of funding.
GARRETT: Oxfam and Greenpeace see next months' Pacific Islands Forum as an important stepping stone in their battle to get a strong climate agreement at the crucial Copenhagen Climate Meeting at the end of the year. Reverend Tafue Lusama told the Sydney audience that a 40 per cent cut in carbon emissions is the minimum needed if his country, Tuvalu, is to avoid becoming the first nation of environmental refugees.
LUSAMA: I would like the Australian Prime Minister to stop being hypocritical and to act sincerely to ensure that we survive.
GARRETT: If you get to meet Kevin Rudd in Cairns when you're there and he's there for the Pacific Islands Forum, what would you say to him?
LUSAMA: I would plead with him to increase the commitments of Australia to carbon emission reduction because what has been proposed is far from what is needed.
GARRETT: What action would you like to see from the Pacific Island Forum meeting?
LUSAMA: I would like the leaders of the Pacific together with Australia and New Zealand to stand together as leaders of this region to avoid the loss of countries in the Pacific. And the thing that is holding us back is the political will to commit. So as I always say I have faith in human beings because human beings always have that sense of responsibility to do something when we are faced with a challenge. Now the question is will the political leaders agree on that?