Oxfam Australia has just released a report on the impacts of climate change in the Pacific. It details impacts which are already occurring for some Islands in the Pacific region. The report’s release is timed in the lead up to the upcoming meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum, being held next week in Cairns.
That Forum in turn is occurring in the lead up to the climate change Summit being held in Copenhagen this coming December.
Brisbane’s City Hall is playing host to a forum tomorrow (Tuesday) night of speakers from some of the Pacific Island nations most at risk – Tuvalu, Kiribati and Micronesia. Importantly, there will also be speakers from the Torres Strait Islands, a part of Queensland that can often be somewhat forgotten when people think of islands impacted by climate change.
The speakers will also visit Melbourne on 30 July, before finishing up in Cairns on Sunday 2 August just before the Pacific Islands Forum commences.
Climate Change is bound to remain high on the Australian political agenda over the next month as the carbon trading legislating comes closer to a vote in the Senate. It was no coincidence that it was the first topic Kevin Rudd decided to write about on his new blog.
But the Pacific Islands forum stands outside the immediate Australia political manoeuvring. How well the federal government listens and responds to those from poorer countries and areas that are very much on the climate change front line, when there are few political points to be won or lost, will be significant.
As the Oxfam report argues
that the fairest and most cost-effective way of dealing with climate change is to ensure the most extreme impacts are avoided altogether, as Australia would be called on to respond to more emergencies in the region. As the wealthiest country in the region and the highest per capita polluter, Australia must prevent further climate damage to the Pacific by urgently adopting higher targets – reducing emissions by at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 – and urging other developed countries to do the same.
I believe there should also be moves to make it easier for people from a range of Pacific Island nations to have easier access to Australia and its labour market, the same as New Zealanders currently do.
PS: Another tour of international speakers facing direct impacts of climate change is also happening in August – this time featuring speakers from Nepal.
It will feature Pemba Dorje Sherpa, holder of the world record for the fastest climb of Mount Everest, talking global warming in the Himalayas, and Nepalese environmental lawyer and activist Prakash Sharma. Receding glaciers would lead to big drops in regular water supply into the rivers for people in the region.
The Brisbane event is being held at 4:30 pm on Sunday 16 August at Wesley House, 140 Ann St. The speakers will also be appearing in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.