Young people from 13 Pacific Islands visited Australia in October to raise awareness about the risk climate change poses for their homes and communities. Known as the Pacific Climate Warriors, they spoke at public forums in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
They decided to tour Australia because they did not want to stand idly by as their homes sink. They said: “We are not drowning. We are fighting.”
Their message to Australia was blunt: emissions need to be cut and fossil fuel production needs to be phased out.
Climate change is already having an impact in the Pacific Islands. On some islands, seawater has contaminated fresh water aquifers. Predictions of a 50cm rise in sea levels by 2100 would displace millions of people who live in low-lying areas.
They urged Australians to take up the fight against the fossil fuel industry. As part of their tour, they joined hundreds of locals in a flotilla at Newcastle Harbour on October 17. The warriors used their traditional canoes to block ships entering the coal port.
They also joined 80 people in an occupation of ANZ bank offices in Melbourne on October 22. Pacific Climate Warrior Mikaele Maiava, who took part in the action, said: “At home in Tokelau, climate change is threatening our food security, our culture, our land and our identity. The fossil fuel industry and Australia’s continued commitment to its expansion, is directly increasing that threat.
“We have come to ANZ to highlight the damage and loss that they are causing by pouring billions of dollars into the Australian coal and gas industry. As ANZ is also a member of the Pacific Island community, with branches across the region, it should understand that these fossil fuel investments are not only putting our livelihoods at risk, but also theirs.
“We are urging ANZ to stop financing new fossil fuel projects to protect our homes and our future. We know that we need to see a massive shift in capital from fossil fuels to clean energy if we are to have a chance of keeping our islands above water. What we reap now is what our children will sow in the future.”