Sunday 22 May 2011

Statement of the Pacific Conference of Churches on Climate Change and Resettlement

11 April 2011- PACNEWS
“God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth‘” (Genesis 1:28 NRSV).

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) stands in solidarity with those who have, are, and will undergo the process of resettlement whereby people are being forced to leave their homeland.

Climate change will result in the loss of life, land, and liberty. It is our prophetic responsibility to comprehensively address issues confronting the realities of resettlement as a consequence of climate change.

Reaffirming the Pacific church leaders’ Moana Declaration in 2009, we make the following call:

We call upon church communities in the Pacific:

- To be proactive in regards to the seriousness of climate change by seeking to implement adaptation and mitigation initiatives

- To advocate against the injustices brought about by climate change and call on all political leaders and governments to take immediate action in consultation with all communities

- To increase awareness of climate change and its severity within religious bodies and communities

-To provide hope to those most affected by climate change by offering accompaniment, advice, and resource assistance where practical

- To encourage ecological stewardship and responsible, locally appropriate sustainability practices

- To reflect upon and challenge our embedded theologies in regards to climate change, the need for our shared accompaniment and responsibility towards creation

We call upon industrialised countries:

- To ensure that an equitable, ambitious and legally binding post-Kyoto climate deal is secured in Durban, South Africa (COP 17)

- To grasp the reality that 20% of the global population exploits 80% of the world’s resources and that the Pacific region is responsible for 0.006% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions

- To support the establishment of an international convention that specifically addresses the unique situation of “forced climate migrants”

- To allocate equitable and just financing for the purposes of adaptation and mitigation programs in most vulnerable countries and communities

- To embody a spirit of accountability and interconnectivity in regards to international climate change referendums

- To acknowledge the close link between the fight against poverty and the struggle for climate justice in their strategic and practical approaches

- To reflect on the impact of their policies as well as the lifestyles of their people on both the climate and on vulnerable and poor people

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)

The PCC believes that failure to act would result in further loss and irreparable devastation to all of creation. PCC understands that this is an issue of ecological justice because people who have contributed the least suffer the most. Inaction is unjust.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)

For further enquiries, please contact: 

Mr Fe’iloakitau Tevi
General Secretary
Pacific Conference of Churches
Tel: (679) 3311 277

ADB, partners to help five Pacific nations reduce fossil fuel

08 April 2011 – PACNEWS 
Five Pacific nations, which rely heavily on imported diesel for power generation, are expected to reduce their fossil fuel consumption with the help of a technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its partners.

The ADB Board of Directors recently approved a technical assistance of around $12.4 million under the Promoting Energy Efficiency in the Pacific (Phase 2) to help consumers use power more efficiently in the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

“Paying for imported fossil fuels places a major strain on local economies and trade balances,” said Robert Kesterton, Energy Specialist of ADB’s Pacific Department. “The volatility and high level of oil-based fossil fuel prices is a threat to the ongoing social, economic, and environmental development and sustainability of these countries.”

The financing will help stakeholders gain comprehensive information on energy use by sector and appliance, mainstream energy efficiency programs into government processes and policies, improve the implementation of energy efficiency programs, and raise public awareness on the benefits of energy conservation.

The technical assistance is financed by a $1 million grant from the ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund; $5.25 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF); $1 million from the Government of Australia, coordinated through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility; and $1.5 million from the Asian Clean Energy Fund under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility (CEFPF).The participating governments will provide $2.047 million and the power utilities will provide $1.62 million in non-cash contributions.

The GEF unites close to 180 countries in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.

The CEFPF was established in 2007 to help improve energy security in developing member countries and decrease the rate of climate change. It will do this by financing the deployment of new, more efficient and less polluting supply and end-use technologies.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members -- 48 from the region. In 2010, ADB approvals, including co-financing, totaled $17.51 billion. In addition, ADB's ongoing Trade Finance Program supported $2.8 billion in trade

Dredging only a short term solution for flooding in Fiji

08 April 2010 - PACNEWS
Dredging in river deltas in Fiji is not a sustainable long term solution to problem of flooding.
That’s the view of Professor Patrick Nunn from the University of New England in Armidale.

“We dredge at a very slow rate in Fiji so the amount of the things we take out of the river channel is very small. We need to be taking out a lot more to really have an impact.

“ My argument is that we can spend three years taking sand and gravel out of the bottom of the river channel and if there is a flood in three hours that hole is going to be filled up again but people in Fiji they believe in dredging as a solution.

“Everyone thinks if you dredge the river channel, you make it deeper and help prevent flooding. The problem is not the river channel it’s the sea level,” Professor Nunn told PACNEWS
Professor Nunn said increase in sea level will continue to be a problem no matter what plans authorities put in place to avoid flooding in river deltas. 
PACNEWS coverage of the Science of Climate Change, GreenHouse 2011 conference in Cairns, Australia is made possible with funding assistance from the Australian Government, under the Pacific Climate Change Programme.

Tuvalu not comfortable with environmental change refugees status

08 April 2011 – PACNEWS By Pita Ligaiula in Cairns
While the rest of the world continues to debate the implications of climate change, the people of the tiny island atoll of Tuvalu says it’s too early to label them as ‘environmental refugees.’

That’s the view from Hilia Vavae, head of Tuvalu’s Meteorological Services, who is attending the Science of climate change, Greenhouse 2011 conference in Cairns, Australia.

“I think it’s a bit early to have the actual name of refugees into discussion, however what is actually happening back home is we don’t look at ourselves as environmental refugees. This is actually within us, indigenous people of the country,” Vavae told PACNEWS.

Communities on low lying atolls are faced with a looming homeless crisis due to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

“I think it’s fair to say that we need to work on the causes of the problem as well as adaptation to go along with it,” she said.

Countries throughout the region and the world, including Australia are being pressured to take a more proactive role in tackling some of the consequences of climate change.

Vavae said despite the fact that Pacific Island countries are low emitters of carbon pollution, Tuvaluans don’t want to be labeled as environmental refugees.

“We are still hopeful that big countries around the world will help us. On the other hand, if we become environmental refugees and we are forced to leave the country, then that is very sad.

Sea levels are predicted to rise between 14cm and 32cm by 2050 as a result of rising atmospheric temperatures melting ice sheets and glaciers.

Meanwhile, Tuvalu has been experiencing drought since September last year due to the LA NINA weather pattern.

“It’s not severe as the 1999 drought,” Vavae told PACNEWS.

She said the drought experienced from September to December was quite intense.

Tuvalu needs climate science to help adapt to climate change and climate variability, Vavae said.