Appeal for Commitment to Stronger Climate Change Action at Pacific Island Forum

Monday 3 August 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to make a commitment to stronger action on climate change at the Pacific Island Forum meeting which will take place in Cairns this week.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Australia has to take stronger action to cut greenhouse gas pollution because it has a moral responsibility to respond to the plight of its Pacific Island neighbours who are facing the consequences of global warming now.

“Many Pacific Island nations are threatened by rising sea levels which are mostly caused by the carbon pollution of developed nations like Australia,” Mr Arndt said.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of neighbours like the Carteret Islanders who are already leaving their homes because they are going under the sea,” he said.

“The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change recommended that we cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, but our Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme commits us to much less than this,” he said.

“The Government’s scheme makes too many concessions to the biggest polluters in the country and makes it much more likely that both Australia and our Pacific neighbours will all face the most awful consequences in decades to come,” he said.

“The Prime Minister should be telling Pacific leaders meeting in Cairns this week that we will make a full-blooded commitment to making deep cuts in our greenhouse emissions within the next ten years and beyond,” he said.

“Mr Rudd should be telling them that we will encourage a rapid shift towards renewable energy,” he said.

“And he should be telling them that, as one of the countries which has been responsible for their problems, we will help them to deal with the problems they are now facing,” he said.

“The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will be voted on in the Federal Parliament a week after Pacific leaders meet in Cairns and it should be drastically changed to ensure that our response to the climate change crisis is adequate and realistic,” he said.

Mr Arndt said that the Commission has also urged Catholics to look for ways to respond to climate change in their own communities.

“Many parishes in our Archdiocese hosted World Youth Day pilgrims who come from Pacific Island nations seriously affected by the consequences of climate change,” Mr Arndt said.

“The Commission hopes that Catholics here will not forget their plight and take action to cut carbon pollution in their homes, parishes, schools and offices,” he said.

“We applaud what is being done by Brisbane Catholic Education and many individual schools in the Archdiocese to become more environmentally responsible,” he said.

There are also many great examples of religious congregations, parishes and individual Catholics taking action too,” he said.

“Australia’s Bishops have given us a great resource to help us in Catholic Earthcare Australia and Archbishop Bathersby, who was its inaugural Chair, has encouraged us all to be passionate about taking responsibility for the environment,” he said.

“Pope Benedict has also given us a lead by using renewable solar energy in the Vatican,” he said.

“There is much good work being done in our country and the Church, but much more needs to be done quickly if our Pacific neighbours are going to be able to deal with the consequences of climate change,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

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