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Acting on climate change is in Australia’s national interest

By Clancy Moore - posted Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Reverend Tafue Lusama from the Pacific nation of Tuvalu knows a thing or two about climate change. Growing up, his grandfather and father used to teach him about the shift from one season to the other and how it affects the movement of the fish in the sea from place to place. Now it’s different. Changing weather patterns mean it’s getting harder to catch fish.

In October, severe water shortages crippled the country. Saltwater seeping into underground supplies of fresh water and a lack of rainfall meant schools and hospitals were shut down. Water was rationed and bottled water was flown in from Australia and New Zealand. Taro, a traditional staple is now harder to grow due to saltwater intrusion.

In South Africa, location of this year’s U.N. Climate Summit, severe climate events are also impacting on people’s ability to grow food. In Africa itself, more than 13 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are facing desperate food shortages following the worst drought in 60 years.


At the summit in Durban, world leaders, environment ministers and senior diplomats will meet to discuss solutions to deal with climate change. I, along with Reverend Tafue and hundreds of young people, environmentalists, church leaders and NGO representatives from around the world, will also be in Durban. Together we will call on governments to take urgent action to tackle climate change.

Building on the momentum of passing the carbon price legislation, the Australian Government can take some important next steps.

The first step is to ensure that the Green Climate Fund, agreed to at last year’s U.N. Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico to assist developing countries deal with climate change, is up and running by 2012. It must be designed to help poor people, particularly women, in developing countries.

Poor people in developing countries are being hit first and worst by changing weather patterns. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report highlights the link between extreme weather and global warming. While we can’t yet say that any particular flood, bushfire or cyclone was caused purely by climate change, the IPCC report does show that increases and intensification of some extreme weather events are likely to occur in the future as a result of climate change.

The IPCC report also showed that between 1970-2008, more than 95 per centof natural-disaster-related deaths occurred in developing countries.

Poor people in developing countries often lack the resources to deal with extreme weather events. So the Green Climate Fund must assist poor people adapt to the changing climate whilst also developing along low carbon pathways.


The world is committed to provide $US100 billion per year by 2020 to the Green Climate Fund. Sadly, the fund is still close to empty.

At the last round of climate talks in Panama, I listened to many countries discuss the need for new ways to finance the fight against climate change. A financial transaction tax, or ‘Robin Hood Tax’, and a small charge on global shipping emissions, are two innovative ideas that Australia can support at Durban.

A tiny 0.05 per cent tax on certain financial transactions (such as derivatives, bonds and currency trades) could raise billions of dollars a year to tackle climate change and poverty. Importantly, it would also help stabilise markets by limiting speculation.

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About the Author

Clancy Moore is attending the U.N Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa form 28 November to 9 December 2011 as part of Oxfam's U.N. Climate Change Tracker Project.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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