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Young Pacific Islander stands up to world leaders

GREENPEACE MEDIA RELEASE

Young Pacific Islander stands up to world leaders

"This may be your meeting but my home is drowning," Young Pacific Islander stands up to world leaders.


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Click to enlarge

Poznan, Poland, December 9, 2008- A young Pacific Islander has issued a challenge to world leaders at the UN climate change talks, telling them to stop paying lip service and show the political will to fast track negotiations.
"Now is the time to get serious about climate action. The longer governments take to act, the more difficult it is to ensure the world's survival," said Leah Wickham, a Greenpeace volunteer from Fiji who is part of a youth delegation in Poznan.

Addressing a mass rally last night at Poznan's Plac Wolnosci, Ms Wickham said although the Pacific Islands are responsible for less than 1 percent of annual global emissions, her home is at the front-line of climate change impacts.

People from the Pacific and her small island states are victims of climate change brought about by massive emissions from developed countries.
"We are at risk of losing the islands we call home, our culture and our identity if this meeting does not move forward," she said.

Ms Wickham called on Australia, New Zealand and the United States to negotiate strong emission reduction targets to ensure that the global temperature rise is kept as far below 2 degrees as possible.

"If they fail to do so, they will literally be signing the death warrants of South Pacific islanders," Ms Wickham said.

"Can these rich countries sleep at night knowing that we will drown?". This might be your meeting, but the Pacific Islands is my home. In the end, Climate change does not discriminate. It is not just the Pacific islands which are at risk but our planet," said Ms Wickham.

While many developing countries are being constructive, there is virtually no leadership from the industrialised world.

"The only visionary leadership at these talks is coming from the smallest country with the most to lose: Tuvalu, which has put forward its vision of a 1.5 degree C limit to temperature rise," said Greenpeace campaigner Dorothy Tekwie.

Ministers arrive in Poznan on Thursday and will discuss what is referred to as a "shared vision" which should lay out ambitious goals for avoiding a climate catastrophe and set the parameters for a global
agreement in Copenhagen at the end of next year but there appears to be little common ground around this, with many developed countries reluctant to put forward targets for emissions reductions.

Ms Tekwie said Ministers had a real opportunity to take strong action to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Also under discussion at Poznan are the rules surrounding the climate impacts of deforestation.

The South Pacific has large areas of untouched tropical forests which are a tremendous carbon storehouse that must be maintained to avoid catastrophic global warming.

"Protecting forests for climate needs to be done properly," Ms Tekwie said

"Industrialised countries cannot use combatting deforestation to offset their own emissions at home because that would not help reduce greenhouse pollution, and our islands would still bear the brunt.

ENDS

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