The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

New Zealand must ‘walk the talk’ on Pacific Islands' security, says Caritas

Event date: 
31 Jul 2015

New Zealand needs to 'walk the talk' on the security and wellbeing of Pacific island states, says Catholic social justice agency Caritas.

“Our government has done the right thing in using its role as chair of the United Nations Security Council this month to give Small Island Developing States, (SIDS) the opportunity today, to air concerns about climate change and other issues affecting the security of their people,” says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey. “It speaks of our natural concern for our neighbours, and willingness to give those on the margins a voice.”

“However in order to limit the impact of climate change we know that the world needs to reduce their carbon emissions. New Zealand's indicated commitment to cut carbon emissions by only 11 per cent on 1990 levels is paltry and well below what is needed,” says Mrs Hickey.

"Other countries, with their own challenges on emissions, such as China and the USA, have already made a commitment on climate change that is stronger than New Zealand’s.  We can do better and for the sake of our environment and that of our Pacific neighbours we must do better.”

“Our overseas aid is doing good work to support renewable energy for Pacific Island states – but we need to do far more at home to cut our own emissions.

“To protect our Pacific island neighbours – and our own coastal communities – the world needs to get our emissions under control and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, relative to pre-industrial levels.”

Caritas is continuing to listen to the voices of Pacific people to understand the environmental issues that affect their security and well-being – such as coastal erosion and sea inundation, impacts on food and water supplies, as well as climate change funding in the region.

Pope Francis has recognised climate change as one of our most urgent moral issues in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’, and has called for changes in our lifestyle, production and consumption patterns.

“We are a young, innovative and dynamic country – and we can do things differently to make the necessary changes. It will hurt – but it will be far less painful than waiting any longer,” says Mrs Hickey.

“Already vulnerable Pacific communities are living with the impacts of climate change.  In the long term it is the poorest communities and future generations who will have to bear the costs of adapting to the environmental devastation that climate change will bring.

“The poor, and our own children, can’t wait.”

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