Australia to help Pacific island nations deal with climate change
CANBERRA - Half the populations of these island countries are lying in the path of coastal inundation.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed Australia to help Pacific island nations deal with the effects of climate change.Speaking at the 40th annual Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns on Wednesday, Mr Rudd said Australia needed to help its Pacific neighbours incorporate climate change into national development strategies.Flanked by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei, Mr Rudd said Australia needed to take practical measures to help Pacific nations adapt to rising sea levels, and voice their experiences at global forums.Mr Rudd referred to a forum document, which highlighted the dangers of climate change including "severe economic impacts" caused by reduced income from agricultural exports, fisheries and tourism.The document also warned of storm surges, flooding and erosion and exacerbation of existing problems of water purity."Threats also to food security and on top of that changes to the distribution of disease-bearing organisms like mosquitoes," Mr Rudd said.Mr Rudd warned those living in the Pacific islands faced destruction if more was not done to address the impacts due to climate change."Half the populations of these island countries are lying in the path of coastal inundation," he said."It underlines afresh ... Australia's responsibility to argue as clearly and cogently as we can the interests of our friends and neighbours in the councils of the world in which we are active on climate change."Mr Rudd said the key challenge ahead of UN climate talks in Copenhagen was to come up with an action plan for both developed and developing countries to make a difference on climate change."That's the first thing, rather than just saying it's all too hard, it's all too difficult."Mr Rudd said the security of the various Pacific communities was a concern for the entire international community."Our first responsibility is to get a good outcome in Copenhagen because those in the front line of the impact of climate change are within our own region and we have a responsibility to act."The UN climate talks in Copenhagen are set to take place in December.
- AAP / Photo: SMH