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Friday, 12 October 2018 11:39

Congregations provide chance to hear of devastating climate change impact on Kiribati

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Religious congregations are holding an evening with the former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong as he discusses the challenges facing Kiribati, Australia’s responsibility to tackle the climate crisis and his vision for a more just and sustainable future.

The Inter-Congregational Voice on Climate Change is organising the event at the Good Samaritan Congregational Centre in Glebe, Sydney, on Thursday, October 25 at 5.30pm, to raise awareness of the serious issues surrounding climate change in the Pacific.

It is a group of Catholic Religious Congregations with historical and ongoing involvement among peoples in Pacific Island nations in the areas of education, health, community development and climate justice.

Its members bring a wealth of experience and personal connection to Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours and this has motivated them to join together in order to amplify the voices of these communities and work for climate justice for these island nations.

Sister of the Good Samaritan Geraldine Kearney will MC the event. Sr Geraldine has lived in Kiribati and has spent the last several years educating people in Australia and throughout the world about the impacts of climate change on low lying nations.

Meanwhile, for those who can’t make it to the Sydney gathering with former President Tong, Catholic agencies have organised an online event where people from all around the nation and beyond can engage directly with him, to hear how climate change is threatening the existence of his island home.

On Friday October 19 from 1-2pm, Mr Tong will join a Facebook Live Event hosted by Caritas Australia, Pacific Calling Partnership and Catholic Earthcare.

He will talk about the impacts of climate change in Kiribati and the Pacific, and the urgent need for stronger climate action. You can also ask him questions during the event by typing in the comments section.

The Facebook Live event comes in the wake of the worrying new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which showed what the world will look like if it gets 1.5°C, and 2°C, hotter than pre-industrial levels.

In an opinion piece published last week in The Guardian, Mr Tong said half a degree of warming may seem trifling but, for Kiribati, these fractional figures are a matter of life and death.

“Our whole nation is only two metres above sea level, and the report shows that the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of warming is several centimetres of sea level rise. Given that we are already feeling the impacts of rising water, every millimetre counts,” he wrote.

“Increasingly frequent king tides and storm surges, floods and longer droughts are new, unwelcome additions to our way of life on Kiribati.

“Sea level rise is turning our freshwater resources salty, rendering the land unable to grow staple crops such as coconut and taro, and eating away our shoreline.

“We are being told that we may have to abandon our islands, the places where our ancestors have been buried, where our children have a home and an identity.”
Mr Tong also criticised industrial nations such as Australia for “doing virtually nothing to solve the problem”.

To RSVP for the Inter-Congregational Voice on Climate Change evening with Mr Tong, email Vincent Sicari, Project Officer, Pacific Calling Partnership at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To take part in the Facebook Live event, just head to Caritas’ Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CaritasAU, at 1pm on October 19.

 

PHOTO: Sam Beebe/Caritas Australia Facebook page