Cyclone Pam is a call for action on dangerous climate change

(AFP Photo / Unicef Pacific)
(AFP Photo / Unicef Pacific)

The Asia-Pacific Greens Federation recognises the devastation wrought by cyclone Pam on people across the pacific, and we are concerned for your wellbeing today and going forward. The APGF calls for action by governments, policy makers and leaders around the world to stop the intensification of climate change so that we may prevent the recurrent devastation wrought by super cyclones such as Pam, Haiyan and others predicted to come as climate change becomes more dangerous.

The Asia-Pacific Greens would like to reiterate the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand's words on this occasion:

"The Green Party’s thoughts and condolences are with the people of Vanuatu, whose country has been devastated by Super Cyclone Pam.

Our sympathies are with the families and friends of those who have lost loved one in this disaster, with reports of many deaths and many more injured.

We are also thinking about the wider Vanuatu community around the world. We hope they have been able to contact their loved ones and be assured of their safety.

As well as expressing our condolences and sympathies, today, we also express our pain, anger and solidarity with our Pacific neighbours who are bearing the brunt of climate change.

Messages of condolences need also to be backed by action to ensure such climate disasters are not repeated.

Words from professional politicians will never be a match for actions from real leaders.

And if Cyclone Pam has taught us nothing else it is that the time for leadership on climate change is now.

Tropical Cyclone Pam had the strongest winds of any South Pacific tropical cyclone on record.[i] Waiting and doing nothing on the climate means bigger cyclones, more death and destruction, more speeches while the people of the Pacific plead for more action.

What our brothers and sisters in the Pacific need to hear from us today is that we take climate change seriously, and that we will take meaningful action to reduce our emissions and show climate leadership on the world stage and actually try to stop the increasing intensity of these super storms.

Vanuatu's President Baldwin Lonsdale has said that climate change is a key factor in the loss of life, destruction and wreckage left in the wake of Super Cyclone Pam.

"Climate change is contributing to the disaster in Vanuatu," said President Lonsdale.

He wasn’t alone in linking this disaster to climate change.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday, that climate change is making extreme weather the new normal.

Super cyclones should not be the new normal. Their increasing size is a man-made aberration. There is nothing normal about changing our climate and causing mass devastation.

But it wasn’t just the President of Vanuatu and the Secretary General of the United Nations making the link between cyclone Pam and climate change.

It was also the Vice President of the World Bank, Rachel Kyte. She is calling out governments whose policies don’t reflect the urgency which is needed to act on climate change.

The President of Vanuatu, the Secretary General of the UN, the Vice President of the World Bank. All making the link, all calling for action…while all we do is limit ourselves to condolences and sending aid to clean up the mess.

This tragedy is in our backyard and must serve as a wakeup call for real leadership and action on climate change.

Our part of the world in uniquely vulnerable to the changing climate.

The United Nations World Risk Report[ii] systematically considers a country’s vulnerability, and its exposure to natural hazards.

Number 1 on their list is Vanuatu. Number 2 is the Philippines.

Vanuatu, Super Cyclone Pam. Philippines Super Typhoon Hayian.

If we truly want to see the people of Vanuatu, the Philippines, and the rest of the Pacific live their lives without the constant fear and threat of climate change-related disasters, then we need to act.

I would like to commend the initial response by many governments around the world of sending assistance to Vanuatu but in addition to aid and rebuild assistance, why don't we also make reducing our carbon emissions at home part of our response to this tragedy?

Why don't we commit to showing global leadership at the Paris climate conference later this year?

Why not make our response an enduring solution to climate change, rather than just a dollar donation to cleaning up its aftermath?

Yes we should be sad. Yes we should send condolences, but yes we should also lead.

True empathy from Parliaments around the world would involve playing our part in building a safer world and more stable climate."


References:

[i] Dr Chris Holloway, a tropical storm expert at the University of Reading. See:http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2015/03/17/vanuatu-pam-and-climate-c...

[ii] See: http://www.ehs.unu.edu/article/read/world-risk-report-2014

Reference: Russel Norman's full speech.

(AFP Photo / Unicef Pacific)
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