As world leaders gathered in Poland for the United Nations’ annual climate conference, Caritas Australia has urged politicians here make climate change a priority through domestic emissions policies and international leadership.
Caritas Australia’s call comes a month after it released its fifth state of the environment for Oceania report, Waters of Life, Oceans for Mercy. The report tracks five key environmental issues affecting people in Oceania: coastal erosion/sea level rise, food and water, extreme weather events, offshore mining and drilling, and climate finance.
The UN conference began in Katowice on Monday and will continue until December 14, with delegates expected to finalise the framework of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Delegates from the Caritas Internationalis network are in Poland to urge states to deliver a concrete plan to tackle the impacts of climate change on human life, ecosystems, food and water security.
Director of Caritas Tonga, Amelia Ma’afu, has witnessed firsthand of the impact of climate change on communities in Tonga. She said that the impacts of climate change are already visible with unpredictable weather patterns and rising sea levels impacting the lives of millions of men, women and children.
“In the Pacific, climate change is here. It is a question of us losing our home, our values and our lands,” Ms Ma’afu said.
“Today’s Pacific nations are facing very, very serious milestones at the moment, a number of our countries are already facing mass migration due to the islands going underwater”.
Ms Ma’afu said it was crucial that governments should dedicate resources to assist developing nations who are being impacted by climate change.
“As our islands go underwater, so too do our connections to the land and our practices. All of our identity is in the land and the sea and it’s the sea that actually provides a common home for Oceania, so we really need the assistance of bigger, more industrialised countries.”
Caritas Australia is encouraging all Australians to "speak up" about climate change to their local MPs. Details: Speak up for climate
Australia must make climate change a priority (Caritas Australia)