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Pacific Conference of Churches Public Hearing on Climate Change

August 2, 2007


Pacific Conference of Churches Media Release 

"The Public Hearing on Climate Change and Sea Level rise is a very timely event in the context of what is happening to our Pacific Island states due to climate change" says Mr. Raju Fong, the Acting General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches.

The Public Hearing is scheduled to take place from Monday (2nd July) to Friday (6th July) where the 'judgment' of the panel of Judges will be delivered at an afternoon session.  There will be three case presentations:  the Kiribati Protestant Church from Kiribati, the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu Church from Tuvalu and Greenpeace Pacific.

The case presentations are on three claims and these are:

(i)  A regional immigration policy that will allow nationals of nationals of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands full citizenship rights to any Pacific Forum Island country of their choice in the region;

(ii)  A negotiated regional quota on emission reduction and a pledge among the Forum Island countries to invest in renewable fuel energy, and;

(iii)  An inter-regional resettlement fund, specifically targeting the financial costs of resettlement, migration and uprootedness of those who wish to migrate.

The panel of judges is made of prominent people from Fiji and the Pacific region, those who have a background on the environment and environmental law.  The panel is chaired by Rev. Tuikilakila Waqairatu, the Assistant General Secretary for the Methodist Church in Fiji.  The members of the panel are Professor Randy Thaman from the University of the South Pacific, Mrs. Suliana Siwatibau, an environmentalist from Fiji, Mr. Netani Rika, a journalist and Fiji TV One's programmes' producer, Ms. Mary Boni, an environmental lawyer from Papua New Guinea and Mr. Steve Shallhorn, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Greenpeace Pacific, based in Australia.

Mr. Fong said that according to a very recent Radio New Zealand report, a United States government specialist on environmental health, Dr. Mark Keim, told at a Pacific Global Health Conference to Honolulu recently that "Fiji, American Samoa, Micronesia and Tuvalu will be the most affected early on."  The Radio New Zealand report added that te Pacific is "the most hazard-prone areas in the world with high death rates from diseases and environmental emergencies", and that "the Pacific will be the most disaster-prone area if nothing is done and warned that low-lying atolls will no longer exist in the next two generations unless something is done to mitigate climate change."

On why the Pacific Conference of Churches is organising and promoting the Public Hearing, Mr. Fong said, "The Churches cannot afford to ignore this issue of climate change.  We want to address it so that our people's real life stories are heard.  We believe that people have fundamental right to a safe environment and that includes a sense of security for one's home and family."  He further added that "climate change and sea level rise threaten that fundamental right through no fault of theirs."

Mr. Fong said, "The Churches believe that the earth is God's created world and when He gifted that world to us, He did so with one condition: 'take care that you do not abuse my world for if you do, there will be no one left to repair the damage you have caused'.  The Churches has this moral duty to remind our Pacific communities of their moral responsibilities toward the environment and toward each other."

The Public Hearing will end on Friday (6th July) with the delivery of the verdict on each of the three claims by the panel of judges.

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