ERC Media Release: Urgent End to Fossil Fuel Extraction a Must for Pacific Survival

Torres Strait and Pacific Islander community leaders have responded to the latest climate science report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighting that the urgent end of fossil fuel extraction, including the closure of all coal fired plants by 2040, is needed to ensure the survival of their homelands and cultures.

The world is currently far short of limiting warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C - the goal of the Paris Agreement. Even if successful, current climate policies across the globe would lead to 2.7°C more warming by the end of the century and current net-zero climate commitments would still produce warming of around 2.2°C.

The latest IPCC climate science report makes it clear that only genuine emissions reductions - not corporate greenwashing, offsets or future undeveloped technologies – will ensure that humanity avoids catastrophe.

In response to the IPCC report, Mr Aaron Daniel, Community Organiser for the Australian Climate Case led by Torres Strait Islanders, said: “The latest IPCC report makes it clear that the Australian government is completely failing to take the sort of meaningful steps needed to avert climate disaster. Australia, as a key contributor to fossil fuel pollution and a rich industrialised nation, must take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keep warming below 1.5 degrees. The Australian Government has a duty to protect our Torres Strait Islands but its lack of serious climate action so far means that it is failing in this duty; it is failing my people.”

Mr Maina Talia, Secretary of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network, added: “The survival of my homelands in Tuvalu depends on the world’s, including Australia’s, willingness to end its addiction to fossil fuels. This fact is now undeniable.

Mr Talia continued: “It is also imperative that rich polluting countries like Australia significantly increase financial assistance to help us adapt to the impacts of climate change that are already here. However, adaptation will only take us so far. Unless the world acts urgently to cut down emissions, there will come a point, not so far into the future, where adaptation is no longer possible. And then, what will become of my people and my culture?”

Corinne Fagueret, Coordinator of the Edmund Rice Centre's Pacific Calling Partnership, added: "Australia’s current emissions reduction target of 26-28% by 2030 falls far short of what the latest IPCC report says is needed to avoid catastrophe. Although the Morrison Government has committed to net zero by 2050, it has no credible plan for how to get there. Let’s be clear about this: by refusing to listen to the science, the Morrison Government is also failing to protect its citizens and its Pacific neighbours. This attitude will no doubt go down in history as one of the most short-sighted and tragic decisions an Australian government has ever made. ”

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