What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!
On Sunday 21 September more than 2,000 marches took place in 166 countries across the globe, with activists standing in the streets desperately calling for action on climate change.
The rallies were held two days prior to the 2014 United Nations’ Climate Summit, where political leaders gathered to discuss the state of the world’s climate and create global plans for action.
The Climate Institute listed the summit as the biggest climate gathering since 2009, despite a few non-attendees. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was one of the major absences.
Australia at back of pack with big polluters in New York Summit. The greatest threat to global security, global warming is ignored in Aust.— Christine Milne (@ChristineMilne) September 24, 2014
President Barack Obama presented a speech at the summit in which he called upon every country to join the fight against climate change – “not next year or the year after that, but right now”.
“We can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation – developed and developing alike… Nobody gets a pass,” he said.
While President Obama did not mention specific countries there is little doubt that his comments were directed at the Australian Government as well as other nations who lacked input at the summit.
Dr Mark Hayes is a media and journalism educator with a specialist interest in the Pacific Islands.
He commented on how seriously the Pacific Island countries take the issue of climate change.
“The effects of anthropogenic climate change are the last thing that Pacific Islands countries need,” he said.
He said the abolishment of the carbon tax in Australia was a huge disappointment to the Pacific.
“Even with the renewable energy target… a lot of Australians are still thinking with their wallets and not considering the effects on the environment.
“Developing nations like the Pacific have been looking at Australia and other wealthy countries to do their bit for years… but they are not responding well,” he said.
He said the adaptation and mitigation policies are not enough – westernised countries could be doing a lot more.
Marshall Islands poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner spoke at the summit on behalf of the civil society.
Her speech received a standing ovation from the audience.
Reader in Climatology Dr Hamish McGowan has seen and documented the evidences of climate change in Australia over the past decade.
“The rise of sea levels, reduction of snow cover, droughts, bushfires and more… Are all consequences of the increase in temperatures,” he said.
He said the Australian Government need to take a series of logical steps in order to increase their capacity of change for the world as a whole.
“The government needs to facilitate a reduction of carbon emissions… and promote a development of resilience in natural and built environments,” Dr McGowan said.
He said there is a lot of work to be done, not only in Australia – but in all countries around the world.