4
Mai
2004

Australia told to expect refugees from global warming

Environmental activists from Pacific nations threatened by rising sea levels have called on Australia to recognise "environmental refugees" who try to escape the effects of global warming.

The conservationists currently visiting Australia say climate change is raising sea levels and increasing the frequency of events like cyclones which will one day make some low-lying Pacific island nations uninhabitable.

Fiu Mataese Elisara-Laulu of Samoa said Australia, as the region's biggest producer of the greenhouse gases which cause global warming, has a special responsibility for the environmental damage caused.

"We have a genuine case for being affected as environmental refugees if they don't do anything," he said on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

"But unfortunately Australia seems to be a very poor leader in the Pacific," he said. "From our point of view, they want to assume leadership but they don't want to take responsibility."

The conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard joined the United States in 2002 in refusing to ratify a UN treaty on lowering the production of greenhouse gases, saying the pact, known as the Kyoto Protocol was flawed.

Five weeks ago a group of Australian government researchers reported an alarming increase in global greenhouse gas emissions since 2002, due almost entirely to the burning of fossil fuels.

Greenhouse gases have been blamed for a steady warming of the earth's atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

If left unchecked, global warming is projected to cause a significant rise in sea levels over the next century through the melting of polar ice caps and thermal expansion.

It is also blamed for an increase in extreme weather events like floods, droughts and storms and damage to coral reefs and other sensitive ecosystems.

Elisara-Laulu was in Australia along with Siuila Toloa of Tuvalu's Island Care group on a "climate justice tour" to lobby Australia to take a more active role in tackling climate change.

The tour was sponsored by charity Oxfam, AID/WATCH and Friends of the Earth.

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/040503/1/3jyhm.html


Informant: NHNE
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