Cutting edge of climate change - still the moral challenge

30/08/2010

Patrick Dodson leads delegation to Kiribati

Edmund Rice Centre News Story

The Edmund Rice Centre (ERC) in conjunction with the Pacific Calling Partnership will be taking a delegation of Australian community leaders to Kiribati this week.

The delegation will be led by one of the most senior Indigenous leaders in Australia Patrick Dodson and ERC director Phil Glendenning, and will include representatives from Indigenous communities, the arts, media and education.

“It is a powerful irony that the call from the people of the Pacific for support for their efforts in combating the impact of climate change has been heard by senior Indigenous leaders, like Patrick Dodson,” Mr Glendenning said.

“This stands in stark contrast to the neglect the issue received in the recent Federal election, when the impact of our greenhouse gas emissions on people in low-lying island communities - like Kiribati and indigenous Australian communities in the Torres Strait - was not even mentioned.”

The visit to Kiribati will include meetings with Kiribati' President, Anote Tong, education and health officials, community leaders, church groups and other groups from across the Gilbert and Ellis Islands. The delegation will spend a morning working side by side with local people in the planting of mangroves.

“The people of Kiribati have always been strong and resilient in dealing with the difficulties that nature has provided for them,” Mr Glendenning said.

“Climate change, to which they have made no contribution, is another matter entirely, and requires effective international support.”

Mr Glendenning said this week's visit will reinforce the capacity to work side by side with the low-lying island nations in effectively communicating their situation at the UN Climate Change summit in Cancun, Mexico in December this year.

“The people of Kiribati have shown over the years that they possess the skills and knowledge to live sustainable lives in harmony with their environment which is of course 98 per cent ocean. What they are yet to achieve with regard to climate change is for the world to take them and their needs seriously, and to stop polluting the atmosphere,” Mr Glendenning said.

“Unlike what we have just witnessed in the Federal election, this will require serious efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions in places like Australia that have caused the problem in the first place.

“It is not enough for the rest of the world, simply to watch and allow Kiribati to deal with a problem they did not create.”

Mr Glendenning said Australia has strong ties with Kiribati and other Pacific Island nations threatened by climate change, including its traditional aid program.

“However little has been done within this relationship to take into account the new challenges posed to these communities by climate change, especially given the fact that the carbon emissions of Australia's consumption have contributed greatly to the imposition of this crisis upon these low-consuming, small island nations,” Mr Glendenning said.

“There is an important truth to be told here. The aim of this exercise is for the Australian community to pick up from where our politicians have dropped the ball.”

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