Cateret Islanders need to relocate

June 6, 2003

There are increasing calls to assist the 2,000 Cateret Islanders that are stranded without food on small atolls off Bougainville. For the past five months the Islanders have been reliant upon the fish that they catch as crops and gardens have been destroyed by high tides. Schools have closed indefinitely and children are reported to be suffering ill-health because of lack of food.

Sea-level rise and increasing incroachment of sea-water into gardens and water supplies are amongst the impacts of global warming predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Third Assessment Report (2001) of the IPCC declared small island states as amongst the most vulnerable to climate change and the impacts to food supplies and sea-level rise currently being experienced by the Cateret Islanders are veritable ?text book¹ examples of climate change.

The Bouganville government has supplied some emergency food relief, however is unable to finance the relocation of the Islanders to higher ground in the mainland.

PNG Managing Director Eric Ani has stated that the Cateret Islanders must be relocated to Bougainville. This adds the Cateret Islanders to list of climate effected environmental refugees, alongside the numbers of climate effected refugees from Tuvalu.

Australia has the highest per capita emissions of green house gasses in the world and is amongst the world¹s nations that are taking the least action on climate change. The islands of the Pacific account for 0.06% of all greenhouse gas emissions and are as evidenced by food shortages and loss of land that the Cateret Islanders are suffering.

Stephanie Long, Friends of the Earth¹s Climate Justice Campaigner declared: "Australia¹s dependence on coal is an addiction that is being paid for by our Pacific neighbours."

Ms Long said "The Federal governments inaction on climate change and continuing justification the Kyoto Protocol is inequitable flies in the face of all common sense knowledge of who globally is responsible for the massive over-pollution of carbon."

Despite the knowledge of the Australia¹s comparative over-production of greenhouse gasses, the Australian government has shown limited commitment to taking responsibility for the impacts of climate change on the small island states of the Pacific.

For more information or comment contact:

Stephanie Long
Mob: 0414 136 461