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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, spoke from the Island Republic of Kiribati, the Bikenikora Village, where he went to visit with President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati. and prepared there a tape to be used for the Arria formula non-meeting at the UN Security Council, February 15, 2013. We made some excerpts because it presents interesting angles of what sea-rise could mean to an Island State. This is a potential clear wipe-out. A UN Member State might simply be discontinued because we emit greenhouse gasses.Just think of it.

What happens with the water area where there used to be an inhabited land? Who takes over the non-existent sunken State? What happens to the mineral and oil rights at the bottom of the former territorial waters?

How do you organize the migration of the inhabitants to another country? Do you establish training centers in the country of origin so that the incoming folks fit better into the adopting society? This is what Australia and New Zealand have to consider in their relations to Kiribati.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr has recorded a video message that he says is intended as a call to action at the United Nations. He says that climate change is now a matter of security.

The Foreign Minister says his video message is about approaching the problem of getting world consensus on climate change from a slightly different tack.

Senator Carr recorded his message in the low-lying Pacific nation of Kiribati, and warned that rising sea levels will make the place uninhabitable within 10 to 20 years and force the mass migration of its population.

Bob Carr’s recorded message will be a contribution to a climate debate in the United Nations early next month. He says Kiribati is in the frontline of climate change and president Tong is keen for the world to understand his country’s special message.

The message is to be played at next month’s UN Security Council debate on climate change, as Alexandra Kirk reported for ABC News.

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BOB CARR: My name’s Bob Carr, I’m the Foreign Minister of Australia. I’m here in Kiribati with the president of this small, island country, president Tong. And what I’m looking at here is the living reality of climate change. This is a village; the tide rises and floods it. This did not happen in the past, and it sends a message of what might happen to this nation of 100,000 people over six islands should the temperature continue to warm and the sea levels continue to rise.

Australia’s working with Kiribati on mitigation measures, like planting mangroves to hold back the tides – even so, Kiribati still faces a future determined by climate change.

Well the president spoke about two decades being all they’ve got left if ocean levels continue to rise. We’re sending to the UN Security Council this key notion that climate change is a security issue.

You take Kiribati as an early warning sign. If they have to evacuate because rising levels of salt water have inundated their fresh water and there’s no drinking water on the islands, then they will be an example of environmental migration. They would be environmental refugees.

The UN is concerned with problems of peace and security. That defines its charter, especially that of the Security Council. We’re saying that if, for example, a population is driven from its traditional home by rising sea level, then this creates a problem of peace and security.

And if it can happen with Kiribati, it can happen with other vulnerable low-lying areas in poor developing countries.

If Kiribati ends up being a victim of climate change, presumably the burden will fall on Australia and possibly New Zealand. Is that correct?

I think we have to accept that as a given, hence our very big commitment to English language and technical education.

I was at a training college in Kiribati and I saw Australian teachers provided by AusAid, some of them volunteers, working hard to lift English education and provide training in carpentry and motor mechanics so that if it does arise that the population has to be relocated, they can enter the workforce of countries like New Zealand and Australia, with Australian qualifications.

That’s the key, they’re being educated to Australian qualifications, they’re winning Australian trade certificates.

That means, that presents, not as desperate environmental refugees, but as proud skilled migrants, and that’s a serious strategic commitment on our part.

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