Feb 13, 2006

World Bank supports Labor’s approach to climate change in the Pacific

World Bank supports Labor’s approach to climate change in the Pacific


Bob Sercombe MP

Shadow Minister for Pacific Island Affairs and Overseas Aid

Anthony Albanese MP

Shadow Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water

13 February 2006 

A World Bank report supports Labor’s proactive approach to climate change in the Pacific.

The World Bank report, on adapting to climate change and natural hazards in the Pacific, is aptly named Not if but when. It finds that “the traditional approach of ‘wait and mitigate’ is a far worse strategy than proactively managing risks.”

Labor set out a comprehensive Pacific Climate Change Strategy in January 2006 titled Our Drowning Neighbours.

Labor’s approach is in stark contrast to the Government. The Howard Government censors award winning CSIRO scientists from commenting on the dangers of climate change for the Pacific, then just crosses its fingers. Senator Ian Campbell’s comment on rising sea levels flooding Pacific nations was: “let’s hope it never comes to that.”

The World Bank report finds:

· sea levels are expected to rise by between 9 and 90 centimetres

· cyclones are expected to increase in intensity by up to 20 percent

· the impacts will be particularly severe in low-lying atolls

· in Kiribati, up to 80 percent of North Tarawa could be flooded

· the impacts of climate change will disproportionately hurt the poor

· tuna fisheries, the Pacific islands’ most important natural resource, could experience changed migration patterns

“The Howard Government has got to pull its head out of the sand when it comes to the devastating effects of climate change in the Pacific,” said Bob Sercombe, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Overseas Aid and Pacific Island Affairs.

“Our Pacific neighbours are at the front line of climate change. An independent report has now endorsed Labor’s proactive approach. It’s time for Australia to be a leader on climate change issues again,” said Anthony Albanese, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage and Water.

“This is a security issue as well as an environmental issue. It’s easy to imagine a security crisis being caused by conflicts over diminishing resources, when fresh water is contaminated and tuna start disappearing,” said Mr Sercombe.

“The Howard Government has lost sight of Australia’s national interest. It does not take a strategic approach to preventing Pacific security crises,” concluded Mr Sercombe.