Oct 9, 2006

Labor calls for international coalition to accept climate change refugees

Labor calls for international coalition to accept climate change refugees

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Anthony Albanese MP

Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and Water, and

Bob Sercombe MP

Shadow Minister for Overseas Aid and Pacific Island Affairs

9 October 2006

It’s in Australia’s national interest that we lead on climate change, not wait decades to act.

While the Minister for Environment accepts Australia “does have a substantial role to play in helping smaller, less-developed countries” that will be devastated by rising sea levels, he fails to show leadership. The Howard Government does not have a strategy to combat climate change and its impact on Pacific countries.

On today’s AM program, Senator Campbell’s limp response was to put off action: “The major impacts, the long-term impacts, of climate change will take many decades to unfold.”

Pacific countries need a plan now, not when they are already under water.

Tuvalu is expected to become uninhabitable within 10 years because of rising sea levels, not in “many decades” as the Minister said.

Pacific countries are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, including contamination of their fresh water supplies.

Labor supports the Kyoto Protocol and has a comprehensive plan to assist Pacific countries threatened by climate change.

Labor’s policy discussion paper, Our Drowning Neighbours, advocates the establishment of an international coalition, led by Australia, to accept climate change refugees from Pacific countries. (Released January 2006)

The paper recommends the establishment of a Pacific Climate Change Centre to monitor climate change, protect fresh water sources and plan for emergency evacuation where necessary.

Labor welcomes the release of today’s report, Australia Responds: Helping Our Neighbours Fight Climate Change, by a coalition of groups including Oxfam and World Vision.

The report reinforces Labor’s call for urgent action to reduce greenhouse emissions and highlights the need for climate change to also be addressed through the aid budget.