Silencing the climate change prophets
ABC Four Corners lifts the lid off government gagging of those who know and should tell us
Image: thanks to The Age and cartoonist Michael Leunig
while the well-worn Howard government mantra "don't mention the refugees" remains paramount
Hello, and welcome to a report about Australian government environmental policies under the Howard government, prepared by the Big industry players ...
Having found out what I've now found out, I find it impossible to continue with a clear conscience without speaking out.
Guy Pearse, Environment Minister's speechwriter, 1997-2000
Industry players told .... Guy Pearse how they'd helped write Cabinet submissions and ministerial briefings, and costings relating to greenhouse policy while informally being invited into the Department of Treasury and the Department of Industry.
11 March 2006: Burning Coal and burning the planet - The Australian Labor Party has just released its environmental policy blueprint, and on the face of it, the policy looks 'half decent', but, as always needs to be asked, is the ALP policy all it's stated to be? And, how vulnerable is the stated target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050?
15 September 2005: Friends of the Earth Australia: A Citizens Guide to Climate Refugees - While the Earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. The increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect.
5 January 2005 - Changing worlds: the coming of envirogees - In the last week of 2004, when undersea earthquakes followed by tsunamis seriously impacted on countless local communities, the entire world was given a wake-up call which none of us can afford to ignore. An article by Project SafeCom's Jack Smit.
Several deeply disturbing conclusions arise from the ABC Four Corners Report of February 13, 2006. First, the overwhelming evidence that the CSIRO, the body assigned to "independently" research and inform government also on climate change and its impact for government directions, policies and strategy, was gagged in speaking out independently.
Secondly, the big industry players from the fossil fuel industries, were enmeshed with bureaucrats and according to Four Corners, they were given access to confidential information, and they even helped writing policies.
Thirdly, the ABC program revealed how they were gagged in speaking out about the implications for Climate Refugees in the Pacific region, and about Australia's obligations to respond to the issue.
On this page, a collection of news articles surrounding the Four Corners program, highlighting also the urgency of the issues surrounding the coming of Climate Refugees. We start with a section of the Four Corners transcript:
JANINE COHEN: Kevin Hennessy is the coordinator of the CSIRO's Climate Impact Group. One of his jobs is to talk about the potential impacts of climate change. But there are some likely impacts of climate change that are clearly a no-go zone. Some scientists believe that there'll be more environmental refugees. Is that a possibility?
KEVIN HENNESSY, CSIRO IMPACT GROUP: I can't really comment on that.
JANINE COHEN: Why can't you comment on that?
KEVIN HENNESSY, CSIRO IMPACT GROUP: That's, that's, er... No, I can't comment on that.
JANINE COHEN: Is that part of editorial policy? You can't comment on things that affect immigration?
KEVIN HENNESSY, CSIRO IMPACT GROUP: No, I can't comment on that.
JANINE COHEN: Can I just ask you why you can't comment?
KEVIN HENNESSY, CSIRO IMPACT GROUP: Not on camera.
JANINE COHEN: Oh, OK. But is it a policy thing?
KEVIN HENNESSY, CSIRO IMPACT GROUP: I can't comment on that.
JANINE COHEN: I guess what I'm asking you is, are there blurry lines between what is science and what is policy? For example, I had just asked you previously about environmental refugees and you couldn't answer that question. Another CSIRO scientist has told me that he is not allowed to talk publicly about that. Is that because something like environmental refugees impacts on government policy?
KEVIN HENNESSY, CSIRO IMPACT GROUP: Certainly, environmental refugees does impact on government policy. The sort of thing that I could say as a scientist, is that with sea level rise there may be people inundated in places like Tuvalu in the Pacific. And that would be an issue that needs to be considered by government policy. But I certainly can't go beyond that as a scientist.
JANINE COHEN: Are scientists at the CSIRO free to talk about the possibility of there being more environmental refugees as a result of climate change?
DR STEVE MORTON, CSIRO EXECUTIVE: Er, as a, er... As a potential result, I don't see why that shouldn't be discussed.
Opposition should ask Queen to sack Howard government
Project SafeCom Inc.
WA Rights group Project SafeCom, in response to news reports that CSIRO scientists have been gagged in speaking out on environmental emergencies, and in response to Crikey reports published last week - with more revelations about the "Mafia" of the Coal Industry coming through ABC Four Corners' Report tonight - suggested this morning that Opposition leaders - Greens, the ALP and the Democrats, should urgently join in a joint action, declaring an unprecedented "State of Emergency" in Australia as the Southern hemisphere's major polluter, and make representations to the Queen and the Governor-General, requesting for the immediate sacking of the Howard government over the now familiar "con-man methods" Howard has once again employed, on this occasion to silence the planetary emergency of climate change.
Crikey reported last week about the massive payments to the Liberal party funds and other ways of ensuring that Coal remains Australia's major energy, by what Crikey calls "the Big Four coal kings - Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Xstrata and AngloAmerican".
This morning Fairfax reports that senior scientists at the CSIRO were not just snubbed by the government, but that their membership of the Australian Climate Group made their views unwelcome in the circle of the Howard government.
And tonight's ABC Four Corners program calls the fossil fuel lobbyists as "in bed" with the Howard government, calling them "The Greenhouse Mafia", stating that "a whistleblower steps forward with claims that industry representatives have burrowed deep inside the federal bureaucracy in a successful bid to hijack greenhouse policy."
"The combination of these three revelations," said Project SafeCom's spokesman Jack H Smit, "paired to this weekend's criticism of Australia's failure to recognise the Pacific urgency of Climate change by Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu, sets an unprecedented context in place, not just for Australia's obligation to Climate Refugees from Pacific nations, but more importantly because the Howard government has replaced its preparedness and ability to allow open-eyed and seriously disturbing research into how we destroy our region of the planet, with notions of "graft" and "corruption" by the big players of environmentally damaging industries."
"While Pacific nations are clearly calling on the help of the Australian government - in this case the PNG Minister refers to the World Bank report "Not If But When", and while Labor has released a report calling on the government to take action, Howard does what he is best at: getting in bed with the big industry players, manipulating the facts, receiving big donations cheques from big business, while wooing Australians to trust him, suggesting all is fine and well."
Australian opposition parties should join to declare a State of Emergency and demand an immediate halt to Australia's use of coal as one of the country's worst forms of fossil fuels."
"But worse than that: we know Mr Howard from his covert use of the Defense signals Directorate to spy on the Norwegian government and from eavesdropping on lawyers taking him to the courts over the Tampa refugees, we know him from the "children overboard", and we know him from manipulating Australians for his own party-political interests."
"Mr Howard will stoop to anything, and he is happy to use "con-man methods", but on this occasion it's not about a boatload of refugees. This time the future of the planet and the future of human survival is at stake. A visit to the Queen from Mr Beazley, Senator Bob Brown and by Democrats' leader Senator Lyn Allison is small fry compared to what this government is culpable of and what Australia needs to embark on to reverse climate change and destruction of the ecological balance of the planet."
"Get this man sacked and get this government sacked, and let's have a government that has open eyes, an honest way of briefing and educating all Australians and let's have a government with a clear conscience in a new way forward: enough is enough," Mr Smit concluded.
For more information: Jack H Smit, Project SafeCom Inc.
Totally addicted to coal
After seeing the broad business support for a carbon tax at the Australian Future Directions Forum, it raises the question of exactly who is still holding out against what appears a global inevitability. As one senior business figure told an environmentalist, "I have no problem with taxing poison."
Given that the coal industry is currently throwing off operating profits of almost $10 billion a year, the case in favour of ongoing subsidies and the argument that they couldn't afford a carbon tax is very hard to sustain.
Coal and Canberra have been close for decades, although the Big Four coal kings - Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Xstrata and AngloAmerican - don't appear directly in the 2004-05 political donations figures. But the connections are still there if you know where to look.
The Cormack Foundation, the Liberal Party's key fundraising front, gave $1.9 million in 2004-05, and is co-chaired by Hugh Morgan, the former WMC CEO and immediate past President of the Business Council. Morgan is one of Australia's highest profile climate sceptics, holding the renewables industry back through the elite and media work by the IPA and the green-sceptic Lavoisier Group.
The other well-known Liberal fundraiser, Bennelong, is co-chaired by Ray Evans, a WMC and IPA veteran who has been Hugh Morgan's hard right Svengali for years. Bennelong at one point made its pro-coal/uranium link public when it shared a post office box with the Lavoisier Group.
Wesfarmers, with a strong presence in the coal industry, handed over $120,000 to the Liberals in 2004-05, plus $20,000 to the Nats and $20,000 to the ALP. The BCA is split on issues like a carbon tax but the fossil fuels faction is happy to have a former Wesfarmers CEO as the new President.
The Howard Government has certainly favoured coal over renewables research to the value of hundreds of millions of dollars in direct benefit to the Big Four. Indeed, when you factor in secretive and subsidised electricity contracts, especially to aluminium smelters, the annual subsidy from state and federal taxpayers to the fossil fuels industry easily runs to several billion of dollars.
And where the politicians don't pocket the fossil fuel dollars, they work hand in hand with the Big Four and their smaller colleagues. FOI documents before the last Federal election showed the government had offered tens of millions to shale oil (a low grade proto-coal) developer Southern Pacific Petroleum on the condition that it take legal action against Greenpeace.
Leaked documents from the powerful LETAG (Lower Emissions Technology Advisory Group) show that when you are Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton or Alcoa, you don't need to donate to get access at the highest level.
Indeed, BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus is very cosy with the PM and it was the Howard Government that decided it was perfectly OK for Robin Battersham to be appointed chief scientist while remaining in charge of technology at Rio Tinto.
The Latham Diaries also revealed that the coal industry holds great sway over Peter Beattie. This was from August 2004: "We wanted to include Kyoto in the agreement (with state premiers) by setting up a national carbon-trading system, but Beattie refused to co-operate, so it had to be dropped. He's super-sensitive about the coal industry."
Apart from thousands of jobs and exports, the Queensland coal industry does have strong Labor connections. Former Goss Government Treasurer Keith de Lacy is chairman of Macarthur Coal and the man who succeeded him in Treasury, David Hamill, is chairman of Babcock & Brown Infrastructure, which owns the huge Dalrymple Bay coal export terminal in Mackay.
At the end of the day, political support for our fossil fuels industry boils down to jobs and exports. It's too valuable to attack, but that doesn't mean it has to be massively subsidised and exempt from the drive towards a global emissions trading system.
Labor's biggest donor in 2004-05, the CFMEU Mining Division ($470,000), has never run the kind of anti-green campaign like its Forestry Division cousins, but it lines up clearly on the coal side of the energy contest.
Climate Change Policy and Anxiety Reduction
New Matilda magazine
The threat of global climate change is now a regular feature in all forms of media and countless conversations across the globe.
We are not in a movie where a superhero's powers will save the planet before the credits roll up the screen. Among those of us who are informed about climate change, anxiety levels are rising steadily.
Steven Covey in his book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' describes a large circle or 'area of concern' within which is a smaller circle representing our 'area of influence'.
He writes that if we expend energy outside our personal circle of influence we will achieve little, our stress levels will rise, and our area of influence will actually shrink.
On the other hand, if we are careful to find out what our area of influence is and then work steadily within it, it will grow.
We can extrapolate from this to develop a method for dealing with the anxiety caused by climate change.
Climate scientists generally agree that cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% before 2050 provides the best chance of stabilising the average rise in world temperature at around 2oC higher than it is now.
Even this, however, will be cutting it fine. Tim Lenton, of the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, emphasises that we must start to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as soon as possible to have any chance of preventing the melting of the Greenland ice cap. This will become unstoppable if the earth warms by an average of 2.6° C.
All countries must put a co-operative international approach to tackling climate change before national self-interest.
This will be no simple task. Emissions cuts must happen despite the fact that the world's population will grow from the current 6,5 billion to 9,1 billion in 2050, and that growing middle classes in developing countries are turning to high-emissions, consumer lifestyles like our own/
Over the past three weeks momentum has built to push Australia towards joining the co-operative international effort to reduce emissions. The ABC Four Corners program on the 'Greenhouse Mafia' and Clive Hamilton's speech 'The Dirty Politics of Climate Change', delivered at the high level Climate Change and Business Conference in Adelaide, have given fresh impetus to our climate change conversations.
Practical policy measures to stem climate change can be divided into a number of key areas.
Regulations, and intergovernmental and business co-operation
Caps on greenhouse gas emissions are a central part of the Kyoto protocol. Market mechanisms such as emissions trading may help countries to reach cap targets. As well as caps, climate change or CO2 charges will need to be assigned to greenhouse gas emissions to enable deep cuts to be achieved. This will increase market efficiency by directing emissions allowances to activities with greater economic benefit.
New Zealand is the first country to begin to implement charging for carbon emissions. This early adoption will put them in an excellent competitive position if globally negotiated charges are introduced.
If the business sector is given sufficient warning and the CO2 charge is introduced gradually, the transition to low emission economies should be relatively smooth.
The global insurance industry will take a lead in determining policy in relation to climate change. Munich Re, a major global re-insurer, studied weather data and found there were less than 200 weather-related disasters in the 1950s versus over 1,600 in the 1990s. Nearly 100 companies from 25 countries have joined the UNEP Insurance Industry Initiative which is pressuring governments and business to cut emissions.
Renewable electricity generation will take a lead over CO2 geosequestration or nuclear power because of significantly lower carbon emissions costs in the entire energy generation cycle.
Countries with multiparty coalition governments that have a strong environmental focus are leading the way in the transition to low emissions economies.
Sweden has committed to a plan to slash demand for fossil fuels and drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. This includes such initiatives as projects to collect methane from livestock and other industry waste to power the Swedish transport fleet.
By expanding the renewable portion of national electricity generation by more than 1.5% per year, Germany is challenging the myth that renewable energy is not able to supply a country's total electricity needs. It is planned that all Germany's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.
Placing a climate change charge on carbon emissions will channel funding into renewable energy and energy saving technology and reduce emissions from transport, agriculture and industry.
In Australia, the first task is to put an end to the coal industry's excessive influence over policy responses to climate change. Research into the geosequestration of CO2 generated from coal may still form part of the mix of R&D into climate change abatement measures, but it should not continue to receive the lion's share of greenhouse research funding. As a matter of urgency, equal support must be given to R&D on renewable energy and energy efficiency or Australia will fall behind in the transition to the low-carbon world economy.
The assistance we have pledged under the Australian and US initiated 'Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate' (AP6), to help countries such as China develop renewable technology, is insignificant compared to the work that China is already doing in this area. Though the dialogue involved in then AP6 is welcome, modelling by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) shows that emissions will in fact rise 100% by 2050 under the plan. Without significant emissions cuts, the AP6 is nothing more than a public relations exercise directed at voters in Australia and the US.
Education & publicity campaigns
Broad public access to unbiased education and advertising about climate change will reduce emissions as well as lead to demand for better mitigation policies from government.
At present, very high levels of advertising feeds growth in consumption of goods and services. Rapid annual growth in greenhouse gas emissions is the final result.
As an example, there has been a very high rate of purchase of imported large screen television sets by Australians over the last 5 years. The manufacture and importation of each of these sets creates huge amounts of greenhouse gases.
On the other hand sales of solar water heaters have remained virtually static. Solar water heaters are made in Australia and reduce annual household greenhouse gas emissions by about one-third. The cost difference between them and a conventional hot water service is about the same as the cost of a medium priced large screen TV, yet only 4% of Australian households have a solar water heater.
If the public are well educated about climate change they will make purchasing decisions that reduce emissions. This then makes government's job of achieving national emissions reductions targets easier.
Effective messages that promote community, social and environmental values above a pervading 'riches are everything' message will also strengthen climate change prevention.
Systemic economic change for sustainability
Careful step by step restructuring of economies will be a necessary part of fighting climate change.
The current world economic system favours large companies over stable local economies.
As an example, global agricultural corporations benefit from transport costs that do not take carbon emissions into account. The transfer of packaged, processed and fresh food over huge distances is therefore very cheap but damaging to the climate.
Many products are simply 'swapped' between continents. One country may export citrus to a country on another continent while at the same time importing citrus from the same country. When climate change charges for carbon emissions are introduced this will become much less common and significant greenhouse gas savings will result.
Road-freight transport is predicted to double in Australia over the next 15 years. This will be very detrimental to emissions reduction efforts.
One of the easiest ways to reduce our personal ecological footprint is to eat foods that are produced locally. Diverse local economies will once again be competitive when the invisible subsidies promoting climate change are removed.
The power of public influence
The scientific evidence that human induced climate change is a reality is now overwhelming.
The failure of our government to join the co-ordinated international effort to avert impending disaster abandons current and future generations of Australian voters and the population of the world as a whole to an unpalatable future.
The Environment Minister's repeated assertion that 'Australia is a global leader in tackling climate change' is, rightly, losing credibility.
It appears we are approaching the point where token gestures by government and industry lobbies will no longer silence an increasingly concerned public.
If we each develop a detailed understanding of the global and personal effort required to avert serious climate change, it will allow us to determine accurately where we can exert our influence to address the problem. Our ability to place pressure on governments and businesses puts them within our sphere of influence.
If public pressure mounts steadily and shows no sign of abating we will witness an end-of-slavery, end-of-apartheid, collapse-of-the-Berlin-Wall kind of watershed. The stakes are certainly as high or higher!
About the Author
Rob Paterson is an independent Sustainability Facilitator based in Adelaide working on water and climate change issues. He has previously been an adviser to Senator Meg Lees and has worked as a consultant, manager and scientist for rural industries in Australia and Indonesia.
Scientists bitter over interference
A FORMER CSIRO senior scientist and internationally recognised expert on climate change claims he was reprimanded and encouraged to resign after he spoke out on global warming.
Graeme Pearman told The Age that he believed there was increasing pressure in Australia on researchers whose work or professional opinions were not in line with the Federal Government's ideology.
His view accords with that of a growing number of scientists concerned about the pursuit of "intensely political" areas of science, such as the debate over climate change, amid fears that views contrary to government policy were unwelcome.
Dr Pearman says he fell out with his CSIRO superiors after joining the Australian Climate Group, an expert lobby group convened by the Insurance Australia Group and environment body WWF in late 2003.
A core aim of the group was to encourage Australian political leaders to consider carbon trading - where industry pollution is capped and there are financial incentives to reduce emissions - and other measures including a target to reduce greenhouse gases by 60 per cent by 2050.
The Federal Government has said it will not pursue carbon trading at this stage. It accepts that global warming is real and poses a threat to the Australian environment, but does not support mandatory targets for reducing carbon emissions.
Dr Pearman, who headed the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research for 10 years until 2002, said he was admonished by his Canberra superiors for "making public expressions of what I believed were scientific views, on the basis that they were deemed to be political views".
"In 33 years (with CSIRO), I don't think I had ever felt I was political in that sense. I've worked with ministers and prime ministers from both parties over a long period of time, and in all cases I think I've tried to draw a line between fearless scientific advice about issues and actual policy development, which I think is in the realm of government," he said.
Dr Pearman is one of three leading climate experts quoted on the ABC's Four Corners tonight who say they have been repeatedly gagged in the public debate on greenhouse gas cuts.
Dr Barrie Pittock, who was awarded a Public Service Medal for his climate work, has told Four Corners he was instructed to remove politically sensitive material from a government publication on climate change.
And Barney Foran, a 30-year CSIRO veteran, cited a case in August when CSIRO managers told him they had fielded a call from the Prime Minister's Department suggesting he should say nothing critical about ethanol as an alternative fuel.
Dr Pearman is one of a dozen senior climate change experts who have left the Melbourne-based atmospheric research division in the past three years - as revealed in The Age on Saturday. The departures have raised concerns about the impact on Australian efforts in the important area of climate research.
Dr Pearman believed his involvement might have been "a factor" in his being offered redundancy two years ago. He was also at odds with the CSIRO's emphasis on wealth-generating research, arguing "public good" science was being lost. He was concerned about increasing pressure on researchers whose work or professional opinions were not in line with political ideology.
"I don't think it is something that has been specific to (Australia). It's a sign of the times that governments seem to want to get on with the job of making decisions based on the ideology they have presented in their elections, and they are more reluctant to seek open and fearless advice from scientists, from economists, from the judiciary, from groups - (who) might not agree with their position."
Dr Pearman's views echo those of James Hansen, the top climate change scientist at NASA, who last month said the Bush Administration had tried to stop him speaking out after he gave a lecture calling for urgent reductions in greenhouse gases.
CSIRO's deputy chief executive, Ron Sandland, said that although CSIRO encouraged scientists to talk about their work, it insisted they did not comment on government policy.
He said he did not know the details of Dr Pearman's case, but if a scientist were to join a group that argued against government policy - as the Australian Climate Group did on carbon trading - he or she would contravene CSIRO's media policy.
The executive director of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, Bradley Smith, said there were increasing tensions between scientists and policy makers, reflecting "a major cultural shift in the relationships between government, industry and science. The driver of all this is the emergence of knowledge economies. Research and development has increasingly become a centrepiece of industry policy."
Areas such as climate change were now "intensely political", and the 1950s notion of scientists being free to give frank and fearless advice was now completely naive, Mr Smith said.
Graham Harris, former chief of the CSIRO Land and Water Division, said he could not comment whether scientists were being stymied or silenced. But "once scientists worked on neat little esoteric problems no one cared about - now they are working on water and greenhouse and all these highly charged issues," he said.
"In the water area, for example, a lot of people hate scientists being advocates for a particular kind of solution. The National Farmers Federation put out a paper saying it wanted 'agreed science'," Dr Harris said. It was an indication of the strong pressure scientists were under.
"It happens all around the world. Politicians don't like criticism, so they use whatever levers they can. It's all part of the commodification and politicisation of science."
50 million refugees in the next four decades from natural disasters
Macedonian Press Agency
Refugee numbers will reach 50 million by 2010 and 150 million by 2050 according to the United Nations not because of political instability but because of climate problems.
The consequences as a result of the climate change can be compared only to those of a war. The Hurricane Katrina death toll in the summer of 2005 reached 2,000 and the damages caused exceeded 100 billion dollars. The economic damage caused by the floods in central Europe in 1998-2002 is estimated at 25 billion dollars.
The figures mentioned were provided by Network Mediterranean SOS President Nikos Chrysogelos speaking to ANA-MPA on the catastrophic effects expected as a result of the climate change.
Mr. Chrysogelos evaluates as imperative the need to turn to renewable sources of energy, bio-fuel and the use of solar energy and wind power. He also explained that apart from the natural environment, the biodiversity, the health and life of the people the sector of economy is also considerably hurt.
Pacific islands record sea level rise
ABC ONLINE NEWS
Latest figures show that the sea level around the Pacific island of Tonga appears to have risen by about 10 centimetres in the past 13 years.
The South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project publishes monthly figures from 12 monitoring stations.
The latest monthly data report shows that for the stations that have been monitored for more than 10 years, the sea level rise trend is highest in Tonga, with a rise of 8.4 millimetres a year.
The sea level is rising at every station but there are wide variations.
The Cook Islands station is showing a rising trend less than one-eighth that in Tonga.
At Tuvalu, which will be experiencing its highest tides in fifteen years next week, the trend in sea level rise over the past 13 years has been 5.7 millimetres a year, a cumulative rise of about seven centimetres.
Project coordinators urge that caution be exercised in interpreting any of the trend data because they say longer term recordings are needed.
Time running out for Pacific climate change strategy
Sydney Morning Herald
A WORLD BANK report has warned that climate change will have a huge impact on Pacific islands, and has cautioned against adopting a "wait and mitigate" approach to the looming crises that are expected to affect the region.
The report, entitled Not If But When, says the impact of climate change will be felt most heavily in low-lying atolls and that Kiribati could experience flooding by rising sea waters of up to 80 per cent of the land mass in some areas.
The report warns that in Fiji climate change could result in a 100 per cent increase in cyclone damage, an increase in dengue fever cases of between 20 and 30 per cent and a decline in crop yields of up to 15 per cent.
"With the climate trend for the Pacific pointing to more extreme conditions and increased climate variability in future, Pacific island countries have little choice but to develop comprehensive risk management plans for the natural hazards they face," the report says.
Climate change could result in average temperatures rising by between one and 3.1 degrees celsius, and sea levels rising by between nine and 90 centimetres by the end of the century. The eastern Pacific would experience the largest rise, the report says.
"Without adaptation policies and initiatives in place, the impacts of climate change are likely to be significant and pervasive and fall disproportionately on the poor," the report says. "Sectors as varied as agriculture, water supply, coastal infrastructure, natural ecosystems and health are likely to be affected."
Last month Labor released a policy urging the Federal Government to develop a comprehensive climate change strategy for the Pacific, which would include establishing an international coalition of countries willing to accept climate change refugees from the Pacific Rim.
The Opposition spokesman for Pacific island affairs, Bob Sercombe, said the World Bank report vindicated Labor's calls for government action, where it stated: "We suggest to Pacific island leaders, communities and their development partners that the traditional approach of 'wait and mitigate' is a far worse strategy than proactively managing risk."
Australia's Pacific neighbours were at the "front line of climate change", Mr Sercombe said, and the Government needed to "pull its head out of the sand".
"[Labor] put forward in early January a comprehensive proposal in relation to addressing climate change in the Pacific and the World Bank is saying very similar things in terms of the priorities of countries such as Australia," he said.
When Labor's report was issued, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, said the rise in sea levels was a "long-term issue and it is too early [for] an accurate assessment of regional trends".
Pacific Island And Norwegian Youth 'Take Action' On Climate Change
World Council of Churches
Friday: February 24, 2006
A Mutirao workshop on the effects of Climate Change was jointly run by young people from the Pacific and Norway Youth Taking Action.
The workshop was conducted at the World Council of Churches 9th Assembly in Porto Allegre, Brazil. The Assembly convened between 14-23 February 2006.
The workshop was held in between the ecumenical conversation on the co-existence of God's creation where are range of speakers were invited to address the issues that concerns them including churches like the Orthodox Church who have been practising good steward to mother Earth as one can relate to their daily prayer and how they worship.
Organisers of the Mutirao Fautu Talapusi of Samoa, Maren Kloster of Norway and Frances Namoumou of Fiji Islands made a presentation on current campaign, "Message in The Bottle".
The campaign began as a result of a WCC-funded Climate Change meeting in Kiribati attended by leaders and youth representatives of the churches in the Pacific. At the meeting there were two statements from the meeting, the youth statement, A Call for Solidarity, and the Otin Taai Declaration.
These statements have been the voice and plea of the Pacific Churches members to the World Council of Churches to their individual governments, Annex 1 countries and church networks all around the world to stand in solidarity with the people of the Pacific in this current change of climate patterns.
According to Ms. Namoumou, the 'Message in the Bottle' Campaign was an unexpected outcome of the meeting.
"Sven Sandvik was a representative from the Changemakers in Norway at the meeting in Kiribati. Upon his return he found out that the Govt of Norway was planning on an expansion to the oil factories. The 'Message in the Bottle' campaign began here."
A letter on behalf of the youth from the Pacific was written to the PM of Norway voicing the concern of the youth on the fact that even though the expansion of the oil factory was up in the North it would still have great impacts in terms of environment to the south islands.
"This campaign continues as young people from the network that we continue to expand and participants to the workshop were passionate to continue raising awareness on the issue of climate change and living as good stewards to Mother Earth."
The Mutirao presentation focused on the impact of climate change in terms of the change in weather pattern as felt now by Pacific Islands; frequent cyclones with an average of nine cyclones per year; and the salination of drinking water and ground water affecting crops planted on low-lying islands.
The presentation also highlighted how Pacific Island countries are adapting to the effects of climate change, including raising awareness on this critical issue; the building of a sea-wall along coastlines in Kiribati; Tuvaluan farmers changing farming methods to planting in pots rather than in the ground and an agreement for New Zealand to accept 'environmental refugees' from Tuvalu.
The 'Changemakers' then issued a challenge, to Assembly participants, as well as the youth of Norway and Pacific Islands: "We call the youth to stand together in solidarity with the Pacific youth to address the issue of Climate Change and for Churches to speak ecumenically and act prophetically against the injustice of climate change. We call them to act now!"
PNG criticises Australian climate change stance
ABC ONLINE NEWS
Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu says he is disappointed that Australia has not recognised the damage climate change is having on Pacific island nations.
Two recent reports, including one prepared by an Australian scientist, highlights that the impact of climate change, principally through rising sea levels, will be worse than predicted.
The National newspaper in PNG quotes Sir Rabbie as saying the rising sea levels are already impacting on PNG and other Pacific island nations and it is clearly increasing.
He says developed nations need to be serious about not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions but in assisting with the relocation of the real victims of rising sea levels.
PNG minister issues climate warning
Australia and the United States must recognise the damage climate change will cause in Pacific Island nations and take the issue seriously, Papua New Guinea's foreign minister has warned.
Rabbie Namaliu said a recent report by Australian CSIRO scientists Dr John Church and Dr Neil White showed sea level rises caused by climate change would be higher than predicted.
Their research based on tide gauges and satellite measurements showed that the global sea level rose at an increasing rate over the past 130 years, an acceleration that had not been detected previously.
Rising sea levels were already having an impact in PNG and in other Pacific Island nations, Namaliu said.
"In the Duke of York Islands in my electorate of Kokopo, the evidence is overwhelming," PNG's newspaper The National quoted him as saying.
The attitude of Australia and the United States, which have not signed the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was disappointing, he said.
"Not only is there an unwillingness to accept that the impact of climate change is worsening, but the fact that significant numbers of people in Pacific Island nations will have to be permanently relocated is just not taken seriously enough."
Developed and developing nations must work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and PNG could best do so by developing its gas resources for clean energy use to limit the damaging impact of coal-fired power stations, Namaliu said.
PNG did not have the resources to relocate the tens of thousands of families that might be affected by rising sea levels but developed nations could assist with relocations and with alleviating the economic impact, he said.