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Pacific campaign wants to exclude NZ and Australia from climate talks

26 September 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Mabel Muller - mabel.muller@pmn.co.nz

A Pacific climate change campaign is fighting to silence and exclude big countries from climate conversations.

Have Your Sei, led by global advocacy group 350.org, is encouraging people from the Pacific region to lead climate change action by signing a Pacific Climate Warriors Declaration to be presented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference later this year.

Pacific Climate Warriors running the Have Your Sei campaign. Photo/ haveyoursei.org.

The declaration wants to kick big polluters out of climate change talks and do what is needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius. 

Project co-ordinator Joseph-Zane Sikulu says most of the big countries in climate change conversations are the big contributors to the problem itself.

"It's really difficult to have these kinds of conversations when you've got countries who've got really big interest in fossil fuel companies, like Australia and New Zealand. They can be really disempowering," he says. "We can't have the people with those interests in the same negotiations with our Pacific leaders who are actually fighting to be heard."

Sikulu says most of the big countries have a heavy influence in climate talks and their campaign is pushing to silence them. 

"They've got their own agenda and their agenda is to continue to export fossil fuel and expand it. They come in very heavy-handed and they've they've got a lot of money."

The declaration wants to help end the fossil fuel era and move to 100 per cent renewable energy and is calling on big countries to financially support the islands that are facing irreversible loss and damage due to climate change.

"It's too late for the Pacific, climate change is already happening," says Sikulu. "For our people to adapt and find new ways to live and continue their way of life, it takes money. All the countries that have been causing climate change really should be stepping up and showing support."

The #HaveYourSei campaign has been doing its rounds on social media, with people with a sei behind their ear are sharing their stories on the issue and calling people to help fight it. 

Have Your Sei campaign. Photo/ haveyoursei.org.

Sikulu says the stories are diverse, from people who are living in the islands and have had to move due to rising sea levels and also from people in New Zealand, Australia and the USA who are worried about their homes.

"There's different kinds of stories but it all comes down to how we connect to our homes and try to find support," he says. "We're finding creative ways to make sure that all the voices are getting in and making sure that people are heard and that stories are told."

The campaign started just over a week ago and the declaration already has over 10,000 signatures.

Niuean singer Tommy Nee hopped on board to support the cause.

Sikulu says Pacific people living abroad are disconnected with the climate change issue but they're slowly changing that.

"Those stories are changing at the moment and people have come out and declared that we've got to be better stewards of the land," he says. "The narrative is changing and our people are taking action."

Tags: environment,