A message from Kiribati to the UN Climate Change Summit in Doha | Pacific Beat

A message from Kiribati to the UN Climate Change Summit in Doha

A message from Kiribati to the UN Climate Change Summit in Doha

Updated 14 November 2012, 18:35 AEDT

A delegation from the Pacific Calling Partnership is preparing to take its message on climate change to the United Nations summit in Doha later this month.

The partnership consists of organisations and individuals who say their aim is to ensure that Australia and the rest of the world listens to warnings from low-lying islands in the Pacific about the serious threat that climate change poses to them.

Kateia KaiKai is a Missionary Sister of the Society of Mary who moved from Kiribati to Sydney last year to take up a role as a volunteer with the PCP, and now she's heading to Doha to tell her people's climate change stories.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker:Kateia KaiKai, a volunteer at the Pacific Calling Partnership from Kiribati

KAIKAI: It is becoming quite difficult and I think the impacts of climate change is reality and the people are living with all these impacts and they're trying to adapt themselves, but the destruction is still going on and that makes life so difficult. We hear more and more stories now.

EWART: Are there particular stories that have struck a chord with you, that have really brought home the severity of what's happening to those countries worst affected by climate change?

KAIKAI: Yes, all their stories as well as the evidence that we are seeing, and I experienced many times driving on roads when king tide is happening and the wave swept the whole island, particularly in areas which is very narrow on the causeway, where you see the lagoon and the ocean both sides. One of the impacts is how the sea water intruded into the groundwater which people use a lot for their drinking and washing and cooking.

EWART: Would it be overstating it to suggest that people are increasingly scared about what is going to happen to them and what is going to happen to their countries?

KAKAI: They are increasingly very much concerned, particularly the young people, because they don't know what the future will be like for them, what is their future.

The older people, there is still this very strong denial, they don't want to talk about it, they don't want to know about it. In fact, they're talking about the impact that they're experiencing, but when you talk about, you tell them that these are the changes that are happening in our climate, they don't want to hear. They always believe that because they were born there, so they want to die over there too and so there's all these different groups of people, but I think we are working closely with the young people in schools and the youth in communities and the other ones who are quite active in raising awareness and informing other community members that the impacts of climate change is really happening.

EWART: Against that background, what sort of message would you hope to get across in Doha? The Pacific Calling Partnership is all about advocacy, so I guess really you want to talk to as many people as possible and then tell as many people as possible the stories that you have heard?

KAIKAI: Yes, and I think with the media, that it will be very helpful to help us stay at our work at the Pacific Calling Partnership to spread the message of the people in the Pacific, particularly in Kiribati and Tuvalu to these world leaders that they have to take it seriously, the mitigation greenhouse gas emission cut, they have to be serious about that, because we still have hope that if the whole global community work together, there will still be a chance for us to live in our own country.

EWART: But in reality, if climate change is heading in the way that some experts say that it is. Isn't it inevitable that one day the people of Kiribati will have to move?

KAIKAI: That's quite true, but maybe there will be a chance that they may live a little bit longer. I do believe that some scientists say there is still hope if we work together, we can make a change.

EWART: And for you personally, how do you regard your involvement in the process at Doha?

KAIKAI: I think it will a good chance for us, even though many people may not come to understand, but when they hear our own stories as human faces of climate change. I often find it will be very effective for these people and they maybe able to think of other means to help with the situation and to take action and to share these messages to their own people.

EWART: Presumably, you and everyone else involved with the Pacific Calling Partnership, those is very much focused on that one word "action". We see these meetings happening at regular intervals, there's a lot of talking and a lot of people involved, but plainly time is ticking?

KAIKAI: For me, I will agree with our President what he often says in all these big meetings that there's no more time for negotiation or talking. Right now, it's time for action. For us islands in the Pacific, we don't really contribute that much regarding the greenhouse gas emission and there's nothing much that we have to cut and what we really want these leaders to listen and to be serious. There's no more time to talk, look at the action they can take.

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