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Devastation on Vanuatu’s island of Efate … Pacific leaders cite climate change urgency. Image: UNjobs

Friday, March 20, 2015

Item: 9169

SUVA (Greenpeace Pacific/Pacific Media Watch): With Vanuatu devastated by Cyclone Pam, Greenpeace has urged the world to heed this “deadly wake-up call” on climate change. “The Pacific islands are fighting for survival,” says the new head of Greenpeace’s Pacific network, Matisse Walkden-Brown. “Global warming, climate change, sea level rise; these are not just problems for the future. They are happening to us right now; and they are only set to get worse. “Greenpeace has extended our sincerest condolences and friendship to the Presidents of countries affected by Cyclone Pam. We stand with the Pacific people in solidarity to end the fossil fuel age.” Although it’s difficult to link any specific storm to climate change, scientists agree that global warming will lead to increases in both numbers and intensity of extreme weather events. Stronger cyclones will mean heavier rains and stronger winds that will directly threaten lives and communities across the Pacific, as seen in Vanuatu last weekend. “The science is clear: burning coal, oil and gas is cooking the climate. The only true, long-term solution to protect the Pacific is to end the fossil fuel era,” said Walkden-Brown. Demand change “As Pacific Islanders we must demand change, to protect what is ours, to protect paradise. Our countries may be vulnerable but our voices are loud and we are prepared to act.” In the wake of Cyclone Pam, Pacific heads of state have spoken out about the frightening effects climate change is already having on their countries. Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale has said: “We see the level of sea rise … The cyclone seasons, the warm, the rain, all this is affected. “Yes, climate change is contributing to this.” Anote Tong, the President of Kiribati, said: “It is time to act … Let us match the rhetoric of these international gatherings with pledges and commitments as leaders to do our best to improve conditions and lives of those who need it most.” President Emanuel Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) said: “For my country, natural disasters and undeterred global warming brought about by human activity will lead to the same thing, whether abruptly or gradually – that is the disappearance of our islands.” “There is a growing global movement backing Pacific Islanders in their challenge the status quo. We need to be heard and seen for the world to fully comprehend the devastating consequences of climate change,” said Walkden-Brown.

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