A delegation of Catholic organisations who have taken up the concerns of low-lying Pacific Nations was overwhelmed by the response they received this week from a meeting with the federal Labor Opposition, organised by Shadow Ministers Anthony Albanese and Bob Sercombe. Other Shadow Ministers, MPs and advisers also attended.
The Opposition has committed to sign the Kyoto Protocol, cut green house gas emissions, assist Pacific Islanders mitigate the effects of climate change, establish an international coalition and assist in relocating those displaced. The Australian Democrats have made similar commitments and offered to work with the Pacific Calling Partnership to achieve their goals.
The Pacific Calling delegation, representing religious orders, concerned individuals and educational organisations that recognise Australia’s ecological debt to our low-lying neighbours took messages from community leaders in Kiribati to Canberra. The messages urge Australians to support Kiribati in its struggle to deal with the effects of climate change.
As Al Gore tours Australia to promote his new film highlighting the dangers of climate change, members of the delegation told parliamentarians that the effects are already being felt by our neighbours in the Pacific.
“One of my most heart breaking experiences was seeing a young woman carry her frail grandmother from her house, out into the adjacent yard because the water was coming into their home” observed Sr Geraldine Kearney, a Good Samaritan Sister who lived in Kiribati for four years.
“These Pacific nations have made virtually no contribution to climate change, and yet they are experiencing the worst effects. It is our duty as good neighbours and significant polluters in our region to take responsibility and offer our assistance” Sr Kearney said.
The delegation also met with two Ministerial advisers, and will soon be meeting with Senators from the Australian Greens.
“We were particularly impressed with the work of the Shadow Environment and Pacific Island Ministers in developing a response to the needs of our neighbours as they face the effects of climate change.” Ms Jill Finnane, coordinator of the Pacific Calling Partnership said.
“We were also pleased to hear the Government’s commitment to continue to work with Pacific Island nations in addressing these issues.” Ms Finnane said.