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Focus on climate change in Pacific

Monday 15 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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WELLINGTON – The science is clear, climate change is upon us and nowhere is the impact more serious than in the Pacific.

That’s the focus of a climate change conference being hosted by Victoria University discussing the effects, challenges and possible solutions for countries in the Pacific.

A host of speakers from the Pacific region and beyond from a range of fields – science, politics, indigenous rights, media, arts and the environment – have gathered to discuss the realities of climate change in the Pacific.

The list of keynote speakers includes Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati and a man who has become the global voice of rising seas in the Pacific.

Climate change is the greatest global ecological threat to our generation and future generations, the conference’s preamble says.

“There is a limit to how much ecological change our world can withstand without seriously compromising modern life, and scientists agree we are rapidly approaching that threshold.

“The evidence of climate change is all around us – higher seas, extreme weather events, ocean acidification, species decline and loss of habitats.

“We are experiencing disruption in other areas too, as the adverse climatological effects shape international relations, politics and public policy. Climate change also has the potential to disrupt global economies, social dynamics and human health.”

The conference is being divided into three broad themes:

The climate situation, the political-economy of climate crises and the future of climate politics.

“Pacific nations are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Many Pacific nations are low-lying, reliant on natural resources, exposed to the elements, and lack the standard of infrastructure that exists in much of the western world,” the preamble says.

“This is why we, as a Pacific Island nation, need to gather with our neighbours and find out what challenges we will meet. From here, we can investigate how these challenges will impact on our societies, culture and government and what action is needed.

“Pacific Climate Change Conference 2016 is committed to democratic change. Throughout the conference, we will engage with top minds from science, academia, the art world, politics and government. We will reach out to Maori and Pasifika leaders, community groups and civic institutions.

“We will unite with environmental groups and leading climate change organisations. By working together, we can create real and meaningful change.

“Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts’ over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.” - PNC