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Vulnerable Pacific Island nations need help

A woman carrying her baby walks past fallen trees in Tanna after the devastating cyclone in Vanuatu. The powerful storm affected more than two-thirds of the South Pacific island nation wiping out crops and destroying fishing fleets. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Our Pacific Island neighbours are some of the most vulnerable on earth to the ravages of climate change.

Vulnerable Pacific Island nations need help

Australia and New Zealand can do more to help, a report by Oxfam says.

The devastating effects of climate change were shown most harshly in March when category five Cyclone Pam bore down on Vanuatu killing an estimated 16 people and destroying important infrastructure and housing in the island nation.

It was one of the worst natural disasters in Vanuatu’s history.

[caption id="attachment_839683" align="alignnone" width="635"]A boy runs past books laid to dry in the sun after the roof of the Central School library was blown away by Cyclone Pam in Port Vila, the capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. REUTERS/Edgar Su A boy runs past books laid to dry in the sun after the roof of the Central School library was blown away by Cyclone Pam in Port Vila, the capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
REUTERS/Edgar Su[/caption]

 

In late February and early March Kiribati and Tuvalu suffered catastrophic flooding which caused extensive damage to infrastructure, homes, food and already scarce water supplies.

Now, Oxfam says, as Pacific leaders prepare to meet in Papua New Guinea for the 46th Pacific Island Form Leaders Meeting, the New Zealand and Australian governments need to “fully recognise the dangers facing Pacific Island countries”.

“These dramatic events should have been a wake-up call for the Australian and New Zealand governments about the dangers of climate change.”

The meeting comes three months before critical climate change negotiations will be held in Paris and in the wake of a series of severe climate-related disasters in the Pacific including a devastating tsunami in Samoa.

“Australia and New Zealand are surrounded by some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change on earth,” the Oxfam report says.

Both countries have submitted initial contributions to the Paris climate agreement that fall well short of a fair contribution towards limiting the global temperature rise to 2 degrees celsius, “let alone the 1.5 degrees celsius limit the Pacific Island nations are rightly advocating for”.

According to Oxfam many Pacific Island nations are growing increasingly impatient with their two big brother countries as they face increasing threats from tropical cyclones.

For the atoll countries (Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands) climate change is a threat to their very survival.

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