Catholic Leader By: Robin Williams Published: 13 December 2009
EDMUND Rice Centre (ERC) director Phil Glendenning wants world leaders meeting in Copenhagen this month to see the human face of the impact of climate change.
Mr Glendenning is one of an eight-member Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP) delegation that left Aust-ralia on December 4 to attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit, which started on Monday (December 7) and continues until Friday (December 18).
The group includes members of indigenous communities in Pacific Island nations and in Australia. Among them is Tangaroa Arobati, a Kiribati geography teacher and participant in the Pacific Calling Partnership delegation to the Bali summit in 2007.
Mr Glendenning said, despite the disputes from various groups of scientists about climate change, it had a real human face that was not being discussed.
"What the climate crisis demands is the best our humanity has to offer - to each other and the planet," he said.
"It is essentially a story about human rights, justice and equity. While it will impact every species on Earth, it is the human face of this suffering that speaks most powerfully to all of us.
"While Australian politicians have had the luxury of arguing over the ETS (emissions trading scheme), they need to remember that they have a larger responsibility."
Mr Glendenning said that, while in Copenhagen, the PCP team would deliver a presentation to delegates involving formal talks, traditional singing and electronic presentations.
"We will be conducting two side events to the main conference and part of our job is to encourage people to attend and try and get the point across very clearly that these people (such as those in poorer nations and in the Pacific islands) make the least climate-change impact but are paying the maximum price.
"As official observers in and around the summit we will be talking to leaders but the process doesn't end at Copenhagen. We will be looking to arrange meetings after the event."
Mr Glendenning, along with fellow climate-change advocates from Australian Church groups, spent time in Kiribati in October and said the evidence of sea level rises was "all over the island".
"We visited the hospital intensive care unit that is flooded with sea water that has breached sandbag walls, a village that is completely inundated with sea water and fields under water that once produced food," he said.
He said palm trees now stood like telephone poles in areas where they flourished five years ago.
"This is a country in danger and they want the world to pay attention.
"We are all in this together. We have one planet and the world absolutely fundamentally has to take this issue seriously and act on it."
Advocate for social responsibility with the Good Samaritan Sisters Sr Geraldine Kearney and ERC's eco-justice co-ordinator Jill Finnane are others among the PCP group.