Ambition and urgency missing from UN climate talks

Pacific climate advocate Maria Tiimon Chi-fang today called for stronger ambition and a greater sense of urgency from the international community in UN climate talks taking place in Doha, Qatar. 

“The absence of any real sense of urgency and the lack of ambition in the negotiations here in Doha are an indictment on high-emissions governments globally,” she said.

Speaking from the UN’s COP18 Climate Summit in Doha, Qatar Ms Tiimon - Pacific Outreach Officer for the Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnership initiative - is one of four delegates – including two from Tuvalu - sponsored to attend the talks by the Sydney-based initiative.

“This lack of ambition is a way for governments of the economically strong countries to just turn their backs on the cultures whose lives they are effectively destroying with their emissions.” 

“People in the Pacific region have hoped for stronger leadership from the Australian Government,” Ms Tiimon, originally from Kiribati but now an Australian citizen, affirmed. 

“Through the hard yards of introducing legislation to put a price on carbon pollution, the Australian Government has earned credibility in the international community as a nation that takes seriously its environmental debt to its climate vulnerable neighbours.” 

“We call on Parliamentary-Secretary Dreyfus and the Australian Government to expend some of that international credibility to raise the temperature and to bring more urgency to the Doha talks.”

“The four Pacific Calling Partnership delegates here at the Doha talks, are striving to raise within the debate the human face of climate change. In this we are working closely with the governmental delegations from Kiribati and Tuvalu which - among Australia’s neighbouring nations - are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change,” Ms Tiimon said.

“President Anote Tong of Kiribati recently stated that for his people the UN talks are not about economic growth, nor standards of living, but rather are about the very survival of their nation and of their people’s culture." 

“Through our Pacific Calling Partnership initiative we would echo his sense of urgency. The reality is that in Tuvalu and in Kiribati they're already facing problems.”

"The negotiations need to address this and focus on what's already happening in the most vulnerable countries. This process can’t be taken as just another game of diplomacy,” she said.

“Kiribati and Tuvalu are members of the Association of Small Islands States (AOSIS) which affirmed last week that 'time is running out to prevent the loss of entire nations and other calamities in our membership and around the world’." 

“Vulnerable states such as Kiribati and Tuvalu deserve a fair hearing and immediate access to promised resources,” Ms Tiimon affirmed. “Each delay and deferral extinguishes opportunities!”

Since 2005 the ERC initiative Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), has worked to promote knowledge of and action with the people of the low-lying Pacific Island communities most threatened by the effects of climate change. PCP delegations, with representation from Australia & from affected low-lying Pacific Island communities, have participated in UN Climate summits: COP14 Bali; COP15 Copenhagen; COP16 Cancun; & COP17 Durban

For interview or comment contact:-         
Phil Glendenning or Jill Finnane at ERC on 02-8762-4200 or Sean Cleary on 02-8090-1976

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