Climate change is no laughing matter for the Pacific

The Edmund Rice Centre and the Pacific Calling Partnership today reaffirmed their support for the leadership of the Pacific nations at the Pacific Forum in Port Moresby, and condemned the Australian leaders caught joking about the matter in Canberra.

“I am utterly staggered that senior politicians in Australia see fit to regard climate change as a laughing matter. Having recently been in Kiribati and seen the human fall-out that occurs when sea level rise threatens the very existence of a people and their culture, it truly beggars belief that Minister Dutton and Prime Minister Abbott regard the reality of climate change as something to joke about” ERC Director Phil Glendenning said today.

“The people of the Pacific look to Australia - as the region’s largest developed nation - to support them as they struggle to cope with climate change and developmental challenges. Laughing at their plight is simply cruel.”

Kiribati President Anote Tong said in Port Moresby it would be betraying peoples’ trust not to keep the global warming temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Mr Glendenning added, “Anything weaker than that represents an existential threat to Kiribati’s survival, clearly not something to joke about”.

“For the Pacific, climate change is simply and clearly about survival. We are inspired by the leadership shown by Pacific leaders and lament the gap in understanding between them and the Ministers laughing at their plight today”.

"Australia’s leaders have much to learn from Pacific leaders, like Anote Tong, about principled statecraft, as Pope Francis describes it, and the importance of the long-term common good” Mr Glendenning said.

“An apology is in order.”

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