The Cry of Copenhagen: We are Tuvalu! We are Kiribati!

Edmund Rice Centre director, Phil Glendenning, today issued an urgent appeal from Copenhagen calling Australians to make known to the Government the need for urgent and drastic action on climate change.

“We can't let ourselves fall in the trap of self-interested and cynical hard-heartedness,” he said. “If we do so as a nation, then it is our own humanity that is demeaned by our failure to respond to the humanity of our vulnerable neighbours.”

Mr Glendenning expressed support for the strong position on targets taken by delegates of Tuvalu and other Pacific Island Nations: “In standing behind their call for a warming target of no more than 1.5 degrees, the people of the Pacific are simply standing behind the right of their children and grandchildren to live. The small island states have insisted that the Copenhagen talks are about the existence of their nations and peoples. As Australians, if we are concerned about the effects our carbon emissions are having on real human beings we must stand with the people of the Pacific and in solidarity affirm: 'We are Tuvalu! We are Kiribati!'”

Commenting on media reports alleging bullying of Pacific Island Nations by Australia Mr Glendenning said: “If true, the reports of intimidation of Pacific Island Nations by the Rudd Government are very disturbing, especially given the Prime-Minister's impassioned references to a moral imperative to act on climate change when he has defended his Government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.”

“If climate change is 'the great moral challenge of our generation', as Mr Rudd affirmed when seeking election, then where's his moral leadership in ensuring the survival of the small island states? In the light of this apparent intimidation, I urge all compassionate Australians to make known to our Government their concern for transparency and accountability by Australia at every stage of UN Climate Change negotiations. Small island states need a climate deal to ensure their survival. Many larger nations want something else.”

“In the past few days here in Copenhagen delegates from the G77 group of developing nations have protested that the developed countries are trying to break the existing Kyoto protocol on carbon emissions.”

“The African delegates have made clear that their walkout was to defend the Kyoto protocol. They have underlined that Kyoto is the only existing agreement with binding targets on emission reductions. I see this as African nations acting responsibly. They have pulled the emergency chord to avoid the Copenhagen talks becoming a train wreck. Their position is that 'the killing of the Kyoto Protocol will lead to the killing of Africa'.“

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