The Edmund Rice Centre today called for this month's UN Climate Change Summit in Cancun, Mexico to take seriously the concerns of the vulnerable nations as expressed in the recently accorded 'Ambo Declaration'.
Speaking in Sydney upon his return from the Pacific nation of Kiribati where he attended the Tarawa Climate Change Conference, Edmund Rice Centre director, Phil Glendenning said, "The Ambo Declaration is a call for the world to take climate change seriously given the loss and damage that people in nations like Kiribati are already experiencing".
“The Ambo Declaration states clearly the consensus of the discussions amongst the twenty or so governments that attended last week's conference in Kiribati,” he affirmed.
“Although non-binding it is an important agenda-setting statement for the up-coming UN summit. So far it has been formally adopted by twelve of the represented governments. These twelve include the smaller vulnerable nations, but also Australia, New Zealand, and world economic powers: China, Japan and Brazil,” he said.
Mr Glendenning and ERC's Eco-Justice coordinator, Jill Finnane attended the Tarawa summit at the invitation of the Government of Kiribati as the delegates of the Pacific Calling Partnership.
The Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), an ERC initiative, has been 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 have participated in past UN Climate summits COP14 in Bali, COP15 in Copenhagen and will participate in this month's COP16 summit in Cancun, Mexico.
“Pressure is building within the UNFCCC process,” Mr Glendenning said, “as the current treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in December 2012. So once again the clock is ticking.”
"In the lead-up to the COP15 summit last year in Copenhagen the frontline nations were given promises that are yet to come to fruition," Mr Glendenning said. "These least powerful nations were promised that the big powers would assist in achieving a legally binding treaty.”
"Those promises were left unfulfilled when world leaders arrived in Copenhagen. Rather than substantive progress, the scramble was on for a political outcome that the powerful nations could live with.”
"The Ambo Declaration therefore takes the process a significant step further. We're now far better organised in our preparations for COP16 in Cancun. The Tarawa Conference and the Ambo Declaration demonstrate that the expectations of all of us who are concerned about the effects of climate change on low-lying communities are probably more realistic.”
"In the light of the lack of progress in Copenhagen, people won't be putting all their eggs in one basket. After Copenhagen it is clear that the Cancun summit will be a tough political negotiation We're not going to see any kind of quick-fix: come to one meeting, sign off and hey-presto we're in nirvana," he said.
“It was pleasing to see the Australian Government playing a positive role at the Tarawa Conference. Our hope is that they will continue this role at the Cancun summit and work to ensure that the urgent resources that countries like Kiribati need will be provided”.
"We, as a region have a crucial role to play, collectively, in working together in recognising the particular circumstances of the Pacific and the particular vulnerabilities of the Pacific."
For interview/comment contact Phil Glendenning 0419 013 758 or Sean Cleary 0403 434 512
Jill Finnane, coordinator of ERC's Eco-Justice Programs has prepared a detailed reflection on the process of Tarawa Climate Change Conference and on the content of the Ambo Declaration. Read more