Caritas Disappointed With Australian Carbon Emissions Targets

Caritas Australia has criticised the Australian government’s latest carbon emissions target as being too little too late for most of the global poor including the country’s neighbours in the pacific. The new target seeks to reduce carbon emissions by between 26-28 per cent of 2005 levels by the year 2030. Maria Tiimon-Chi Fang of the Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnership gave parliament a first-hand account of what it is like for those that are actually dealing with climate change.

Pacific Islanders need a voice

Caritas Australia is working with the Partnership to give the people of the Pacific Islands a voice in the Australian conversation on climate change. The agency has operations in the Carteret Islands and in Kiribati where the thousands of people have to confront the real possibility of relocation due to climate change. Ms. Tiimon who herself is from Kiribati made a powerful case to parliament.

“My country has few resources and is trying hard to survive. The people are resilient and are working very hard for survival. But they desperately need more help from countries like Australia. Kiribati is grateful for Australian aid but Australia could do more on this and could make a big difference if they changed their attitude towards climate change. Australia has the highest per capita green-house emissions in the world. Kiribati people live with the consequences of high emissions. If Australia were to take its responsibilities seriously then the people of Kiribati will have more chance to build up their resilience by initiating more extensive adaptation measures.” Ms. Tiimon said.

Entire populations will have to be relocated

If sea levels continue to rise, then the island nation of Kiribati has made plans to relocate its entire population. The country’s president, Anote Tong appealed directly to the people of Australia to act on what he says is the Australia’s moral responsibility towards fellow human beings. According to the World Bank, 80 per cent of the financial and human damage inflicted by climate change will be on poor countries. Paul O’Callaghan CEO of Caritas Australia says the 2020 targets set by the Australian government are disappointing and as one of the largest per capita carbon emitters in the world, the country has a responsibility to the global poor.

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