Climate change greater than refugee concern at Pacific Island forum

Questions around how Julia Gillard will respond to the failure of the Malaysian asylum seeker deal continue to dog the PM at the Pacific Island Conference in New Zealand today. And New Zealand PM John Keys has been skirting around questions about a deal with Australia on how to handle refugees. But those aren’t the only issues on the agenda.

For many pacific islands, climate change is a far bigger threat than the occasional wayward boat. And that’s what’s brought UN Chief Ban Ki Moon to the land of the long white cloud, fresh from Kiribati – and with a clear message for pacific island nations including Australia.

Catherine Zengerer caught up with Selwyn Manning – Editorial manager and director of news site Scoop.co.nz – to find out how the pre-conference talks were progressing.

[audio https://czengerer.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/wwpacific-forum-selwyn.mp3]

Download interview

This story first appeared on The Wire

One thought on “Climate change greater than refugee concern at Pacific Island forum

  1. While the Earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. The increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth?s atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. This in turn has accentuated the greenhouse ?trap? effect, causing greenhouse gases to form a blanket around the Earth, inhibiting the sun?s heat from leaving the outer atmosphere. This increase of greenhouse gases is causing an additional warming of the Earth?s surface and atmosphere. A direct consequence of this is sea-level rise expansion, which is primarily due to the thermal expansion of oceans (water expands when heated), inducing the melting of ice sheets as global surface temperature increases.
    Forecasts for climate change by the 2,000 scientists on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project a rise in the global average surface temperature by 1.4 to 5.8°C from 1990 to 2100. This will result in a global mean sea level rise by an average of 5 mm per year over the next 100 years. Consequently, human-induced climate change will have ?deleterious effects? on ecosystems, socio-economic systems and human welfare.At the moment, especially high risks associated with the rise of the oceans are having a particular impact on the two archipelagic states of Western Polynesia: Tuvalu and Kiribati. According to UN forecasts, they may be completely inundated by the rising waters of the Pacific by 2050.According to the vast majority of scientific investigations, warming waters and the melting of polar and high-elevation ice worldwide will steadily raise sea levels. This will likely drive people off islands first by spoiling the fresh groundwater, which will kill most land plants and leave no potable water for humans and their livestock. Low-lying island states like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives are the most prominent nations threatened in this way.“The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. The best solution is continue to recognize deterritorialized states as a normal states in public international law. The case of Kiribati and other small island states is a particularly clear call to action for more secure countries to respond to the situations facing these ‘most vulnerable nations’, as climate change increasingly impacts upon their lives.

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