Edmund Rice Centre calls for climate change debate to go beyond emissions targets only, as Kiribati visit begins

Edmund Rice Centre (ERC) issued a call today for the people of the Pacific whose lives are daily affected by the impact of climate change and rising sea levels, not to be excluded when the world gathers in Copenhagen in December. 

“The peoples of countries like Kiribati and many others in low-lying islands make minimal impact in causing rising sea levels but are asked by the rest of the world to pay the maximum price”, ERC Director Phil Glendenning said.

Mr Glendenning was speaking prior to departing for Kiribati as part of a delegation from the Pacific Calling Partnership (of which ERC is a member). Over the next week, as part of preparation for a joint delegation to the UN Summit in Copenhagen, the group will meet with a wide range of leaders and community organisations in Kiribati including Prime Minister Anote Tong and Foreign Minister Tessie Lambourne, as well as officials in the government, education and diplomatic sectors. 

“It is fundamentally important that the debate over climate change include those who are most affected by climate change. The debate about emissions targets needs to take into account what the science is telling us overwhelmingly – that is, that the greatest impact of climate change will not be on developed counties like Australia but on some of the most vulnerable and resource-poor people on the planet . Their needs, as we will see this week in Kiribati, are urgent and immediate”, Mr Glendenning said. 

Made up of mostly low-lying coral atolls, Kiribati is one of the nations most affected by sea encroachments attributable to climate change. 

“The very future of Kiribati is at stake. Australia has an important role in the Pacific and has a central role to play in ensuring the people of nations like Kiribati get listened to and responded to. They live with the reality of this emerging ecological uncertainty occurring every day”, Mr Glendenning said

“The Copenhagen Summit and the debate over climate change cannot be limited to simplistic arguments only. It must include the future of all people – especially those most at risk. The world needs to listen to them and it needs to listen to them now”. 

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