The Ultimate Oceania Travel Guide

Larger nations responsible for Pacific climate change solutions

Industrialised nations could well accept responsibility at the 2021 Climate Change Conference for infringing on the human rights of Pacific people.

The Global Conference of the Parties (COP 26) summit in Glasgow from October 30 has been tasked with supporting a response to the threat of climate change.

That could demand that world leaders have greater involvement in fixing problems that colonisation in the Pacific indirectly has caused years later.

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has been addressing issues of affected island nations but have painted a contemporary grim picture for the Pacific.

“As we are all very aware, Pacific states face rising sea levels, king tides, flooding, droughts and extreme weather events that happened to overwhelm infrastructure, destruct economies, displace populations and threaten the very basics of life and uncertainty of people’s cultural traditions,” Robert Vaughan, of the Regional Office for the Pacific Intervention, said via a recent Pacific Regional Dialogue video link.

Robert Vaughan UN human rights mission
Robert Vaughan speaks about United Nations human rights mission in the Pacific. Picture: YouTube/UN

“For more specific countries, these factors are threatening multipliers, exasperating tensions relating to impressions on the land, rapid transition and to forego stability.

“The climate crisis is also bringing up the forefront historical challenges existing in the Pacific such as the nuclear legacy that impacts on future generations.

“The root cause of these threats we see in the Pacific come from outside the region.

“It is the large carbon-emitting states that needs to show international solidarity with Pacific states and those that are more vulnerable to climate change, and increasingly working towards an emissions-determined contribution because this situation is just unfair.”

The High Commission for Human Rights has taken the stand it is clearly “just unfair” for nations that contribute the least to climate change to be among those most affected.

“The impact of the climate crisis is already being felt in the Pacific and this means whether climate action is ramped up and gather pace, it will not be enough to save Pacific peoples from suffering the impacts on their human rights,” Mr Vaughan said.

“Therefore, investment and adaptation are vital if we are to limit the negative consequence of this climate emergency.

“As focal point for the Pacific, I have seen firsthand how the climate crisis has been the greatest threat to peace, prosperity and the enjoyment of human rights in the Pacific.

“This is particularly true for individuals and communities of low-lying atoll nations as this climate crisis directly threatens their sovereignty in terms of the loss of their territory.

“We’ve already seen small islands in the Pacific lost at sea and although there have been legal and principal discussions held in the Pacific in regards to these extensional threat, questions remain to how best to protect the rights of people in these circumstances.”

Pacific nations are leading the way to grapple through climate change.

The UN has recognised Pacific Island Forum leaders for their declaration of preserving maritime zones in the face of rising sea levels.

But maintaining human rights for the millions scattered across the region within the climate change discourse is seen as the key issue.

“We will work towards ensuring that the most vulnerable and marginalised societies are not left behind,” Mr Vaughan said.

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