Islanders call on Abbott and Bishop to visit low lying Pacific nations

“The very worst fears of Pacific Island Communities in Australia have been confirmed in the latest IPCC report published last week,” said Pacific Calling Partnership spokesperson Maria Tiimon Chi-fang speaking at a community gathering following the release of the fifth assessment report (AR5) of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“We would like to see Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visit the Pacific’s low-lying island nations during the term of this Parliament,” affirmed Ms Tiimon Chi-fang, an I-Kiribati woman living in Sydney whose life was featured in the awardwinning SBS documentary The Hungry Tide.

“Meeting the I-Kiribati may bring them to re-evaluate the Government’s reduction commitments to bring them in line with the climate science.”

“Australia’s commitment to reduce our emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020, is by no means an adequate response to the evidence,” emphasised Ms Tiimon Chi-fang, who is community outreach officer for the Pacific Calling Partnership.

“Nor is it appropriate or sufficient given Australia’s support for the Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership, launched in September at the 2013 Pacific Island Forum.”

“Pacific Islanders increasingly feel that a mere 5% reduction in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions puts the future of their islands at risk. They feel insecure about their futures, and are disappointed at the clear contradiction between the Government’s support for the Majuro Declaration, and their lack of effective climate change policy. ”

“I urge Prime Minister Abbott to reconfirm his support for the Majuro Declaration, and substantially reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

“Australia has a moral responsibility in two parts. First to Pacific Island neighbours who - whilst having not contributed to the problem, will suffer most from its effects. Secondly, there is also a responsibility to Australian children and grandchildren, who will inherit the effects of our lack of action.”

“I call on our Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister to visit my home country,” Ms Tiimon Chi-fang, now an Australian citizen, said. “Not until they can see the human face of climate change will they fully understand the consequences of their inaction for my people. Cutting $4.5 billion from the overseas aid budget, as well as cutting out key climate change policy infrastructure in Australia, makes me question the Australian Government’s commitment to the survival of our Pacific Island nations.”

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