UN Climate Summit: Urgent action needed for 'climate vulnerable'

Edmund Rice Centre director, Phil Glendenning today called for the international community to take urgent action to support those nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Speaking on his departure from Sydney to attend this month's UN climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, Mr Glendenning gave voice to the needs of low-lying communities who are already dealing with the impacts of climate change.

“People living in these communities are on the front-line. They are already living with the day-to-day consequences of human-induced climate change, including extreme weather events and sea-level rises,” he said.

“What these people need now out of the COP16 climate summit in Cancun is an urgent package of assistance which gives them help on the ground in a practical way.” he said.

The Cancun COP16 summit follows on from past international meetings in Bali in 2008 and Copenhagen in 2009 in an effort to shape a new binding international treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

“The Kyoto Protocol expires in December 2012 so Cancun is key to reaching a new global pact to reduce greenhouse emissions. Part of what is on the table in Cancun is funding for mitigation and adaptation programs in those countries that are most vulnerable,” Mr Glendenning affirmed

“The role of COP16 in Cancun - as opposed to Copenhagen - is for the vulnerable states to be assisted in a practical way rather than the political-scientific route which does nothing to change what is happening in their homelands now.”

Mr Glendenning will participate in the Cancun summit as one of six participants of the Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), an ERC initiative working for the past five years to promote knowledge of and action with the people of low-lying Pacific Island communities who are most threatened by the effects of climate change. PCP delegations, with representation both from Australia and from the affected low-lying Pacific Island communities, have participated in the past UN climate summits COP14 in Bali and COP15 in Copenhagen. 

“Vulnerable states such as Kiribati and Tuvalu deserve a fair hearing and immediate access to promised resources.”

“We were present and witnessed Australia sign the ‘Ambo Declaration’ at the recent Tarawa Climate Change Conference in Kiribati. We now therefore, call on the Australian Government to stand by that commitment by speaking out in support of vulnerable nations when the Declaration is presented in Cancun.”

At the invitation of the Kiribati Government, Phil Glendenning and ERC's Jill Finnane, represented PCP as official observers at the Tarawa Climate Change Conference earlier this month. [Jill Finnane's reflections on this conference can be read on the ERC website: www.erc.org.au ] Ambo is the name of the village where the Kiribati Parliament meets.

“In signing the 'Ambo Declaration' Australia made a good start towards real, cooperative action. This lays the foundations for working together in Cancun to achieve meaningful and practical outcomes.”

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