Caritas Australia, , says the Australian Government’s new target to reduce carbon pollution by 26-28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030 will be too little too late, for many of the global poor, including our Pacific neighbours.
Addressing a key climate change event at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, 17 August, Maria Tiimon-Chi Fang, who is from Kiribati, and works with the Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnership will speak of the firsthand experiences of those dealing with the reality of climate change.
Caritas Australia, the Catholic Church’s aid and development agency, is working with the Pacific Calling Partnership to bring the voice of Pacific Islanders into the Australian conversation on climate change. The agency works in Kiribati and in the Carteret Islands, where thousands of people are facing the reality of forced relocation due to climate change.
“My country has few resources and is trying hard to survive,” Ms Tiimon said. “The people are resilient and are working very hard for survival. But they desperately need more help from countries like Australia. Kiribati is grateful for Australian aid but Australia could do more on this and could make a big difference if they changed their attitude towards climate change.”
“Australia has the highest per capita green-house emissions in the world. Kiribati people live with the consequences of high emissions. If Australia were to take its responsibilities seriously then the people of Kiribati will have more chance to build up their resilience by initiating more extensive adaptation measures.”
The Pacific island republic of Kiribati is planning for the relocation its entire population if sea levels continue to rise. The President, Anote Tong, recently appealed directly to the Australian people to act on what he called our “moral responsibility” as fellow human beings.
In his Encyclical, Pope Francis emphasizes that the poorest and most marginalised communities are already being disproportionately impacted by climate change yet have done the least to cause it.
The World Bank estimates that up to 80 per cent of the human and financial damage due to climate change will occur in poor countriesCaritas Australia’s CEO Paul O’Callaghan said the government’s announced post 2020 targets are disappointing and that Australia has a responsibility to the global poor as one of the highest emitters in the world (per capita).
“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time.,”Mr O’Callaghan said. Australia needs to increase its post 2020 targets and contribute meaningfully to climate financing."