Climate change impacts are more advanced in the Pacific than most people realise.
• Atolls have already disappeared. Climate refugees are fleeing the Carteret Atolls in Papua New Guinea and some islands in Kiribati and Vanuatu. Already resettlement is proving difficult.
• Fish stocks are declining as warmer sea currents destroy coral and change fish spawning patterns. Loss of fishing affects food supply, and the economic viability of small island nations.
• Rising sea level leads to salt water killing the roots of trees and polluting wells. Villages in Tonga have to build rain water tanks as ground water becomes salinated. But rainfall, the second source of drinking water for Pacific islanders, is becoming scarce.
• Storms and floods are increasing in frequency and intensity.
“The storms and waves eat away our beaches and as they continue they will some day eat us,” says Rev. Baranite Kirata of Kiribati. People are moving inland, but it is not a sustainable solution. “If we don't end up in the lagoon, we will end up fighting each other over land, food, water.”
“It is now too late to do something for Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands; but together, we are the world, and it is not too late to do something for us all.”
Rev. Baranite Kirata in a statement to the United Nations
CWS is supporting the Moana Declaration and collected signatures for the Pacific Conference of Churches’ petition on climate change.
The Moana Declaration is a strong statement from Pacific church leaders on climate change and the imminent threat of forced relocation and displacement faced by Pacific peoples.