One person who won’t be impressed by the Government’s greenhouse gas emissions target announcement (so pathetic that John Key was labelled a piker by Jeanette Fitzsimons on National Radio this morning) is Reverend Tafue Lusama of Tuvalu.
He speaks at 1.15pm today at Samoa House in Auckland, where he will appeal for stronger action on climate change that threatens the very existence of his homeland.
Reverend Tafue – who is chair of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network – recently returned from the Pacific Islands forum at Cairns, where he and others tried to get action on climate change.
Reverend Tafue was part of a panel at Wellington’s Te Papa museum on Saturday that included fellow Pacific Island climate change activists Pelenise Alofa Pilitati of Kiribati and former Attorney General of the Federated States of Micronesia Marstella Jack plus Dr Teresia Teaiwa, senior lecturer and programme director of Pacific Studies at Victoria University, climate scientist Jim Salinger, Oxfam NZ executive director Barry Coates and academic/author Claudia Orange.
The heartfelt plea for action that came from Saturday’s panel discussion at Wellington is likely to be repeated at Samoa House in Auckland today, that the effects of climate change are not some theoretical concept for Pacific Islanders but a very real and urgent threat.
Oral traditions are based on topography of islands and around food gathering will be lost forever once those sinking islands are abandoned and their inhabitants become climate change refugees.
Just check out this film about the Carteret Islands being swamped by seawater, killing food gardens and forcing the population to migrate to mainland Bougainville.
Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua of the Tagata Pasifika Trust is hosting Reverend Tafue today in a 11am session with Pasifika youth, followed by a 1.15pm session where Reverend Tafue will address members of Auckland’s Pacific communities. The sessions will either be upstairs at the Tagata Pasifika Trust rooms or downstairs in the Samoa House fale, depending on numbers. All are welcome.
Reverend Tafue is from Funafuti, capital of Tuvalu, the world’s fourth smallest country and home to only 12,000 people.
He is the Secretary for Peace and Justice at the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (Christian Church of Tuvalu), and is the Chairperson of the Climate Action Network Tuvalu. He has holds a Master of Arts in Religion, and wrote his thesis on Climate Change from a theological perspective.
Reverend Tafue has been travelling around the world attending meetings, speaking and campaigning on climate change issues for several years now.
Tuvalu, a group of eight low-lying islands half-way between Australia and Hawaii, has already seen significant internal relocation of citizens as a result of climate change and could be the first nation in the world to disappear because of rising sea levels.
Tuvalu has a land mass of 26 square kilometres, and the highest point is just 16 feet above sea level. Three small islets of Tuvalu have already become completely submerged in the past 20 years.
Reverend Tafue says Pacific people will not accept losing their homelands: “Becoming climate refugees is absolutely intolerable to us. We will become homeless people, roaming the face of the globe. We will lose everything our identity is tied to.
“I do believe people are listening, and trying to do what needs to be done. The problem now is the political will. My aim is to convince people to lobby their Government to support a coherent and realistic deal to come out of Copenhagen.”