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Climate action should prioritise the poor – Caritas Report

4 OCTOBER 2018

Leaders from the Oceania region have gathered in Wellington today for the launch of the fifth State of the Environment report for Oceania. The Caritas State of the Environment for Oceania Report: Waters of Life, Oceans of Mercy is being released this morning on St Francis Day, 4 October.

Caritas is calling for an integrated approach to tackling climate change that prioritises the needs of the poor. The call comes ahead of the release of a Special Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.[1]

“People have already died in the struggle against climate change,” says Caritas Director, Julianne Hickey, “and the poorest people in the Pacific are on the frontlines – those on coastal edges, or reliant on subsistence supplies. For us in Oceania, the 1.5 target is an imperative for survival.”

“The witness of five years of our reports on environmental change in Oceania is that climate change is here and now. Many communities have been feeling the impact of extreme and violent weather patterns, or the slow encroachment of the sea for several decades. We need a dedicated focus on small and isolated communities, and marginalised groups most vulnerable to sea level rise, food and water security and weather pattern changes.

“We also need to face the reality that displacement is happening; often unplanned, uncoordinated; and unsupported by local and national governments and other relevant agencies. Relocation is always a last resort, as the spirituality, identity and wellbeing of many Oceania people’s is tied up with the land and oceans of their ancestors.”

“That is why global climate finance –must benefit people on the frontline of harm. Our assessment of climate finance for the most vulnerable has shifted the dial to ‘woefully inadequate’. Climate finance must not impose further foreign debt and burden on Pacific peoples. It must support a just transition that promotes capacity building and technology transfer.

The community of nations gathering this December in Poland for the next United Nations climate change conference (COP24) must focus on finalising the Rulebook for the Paris Agreement on climate change so as to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C.

Nationally determined contributions and climate finance must align to meet that target, says Julianne Hickey, director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, who produce the State of the Environment report.

The state of the environment report, published by Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand on behalf of the region, tracks five key environmental issues affecting the lives of Oceania’s peoples. These issues are coastal erosion/sea level rise; food and water; extreme weather; offshore mining and drilling; and climate finance. The report puts a human face on how climate change and other environmental issues are affecting people dependent on the oceans, freshwater and healthy sustainable land use for their survival, livelihoods and identity.

[1] The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC report is schedule to be released on Monday 8 October. The full name of the report is : Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty,


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