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Australia Sends Young Pacific Islanders to COP-15

12/01/09

~ Amy Richmond, Indiana, USA

In an effort to emphasize the human rights aspect of climate change, the Australian campaign GetUp: Action for Australia is raising funds to send five young pacific islanders to speak with world leaders in Copenhagen this December.

Yes, we’ve all heard urgent speeches imploring developed countries to reduce carbon emissions from important AOSIS spokespeople, such as Dessima Williams, current chairperson of AOSIS, and President Nasheed of the Maldives. To some degree, it is possible to ignore such supplications due to these small island negotiators’s age (will they even be around when their islands sink?) and their professional approach to climate change. Theirs is simply another speech in a long line of oratory addresses given by representatives from all areas and levels of development in the world. And it does seem that though AOSIS delegations have for years been emphasizing the very real and immediate impacts of climate change, no large emitters have consequently changed their emission reductions stance.

Now, an Australian campaign GetUp (similar to the USA’s MoveOn.org) is attempting to change all this. GetUp is raising money to send five pacific islanders to this December’s COP-15 through their campaign Pacific Voices for the World. These islanders, representing the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, ranging from 17 years to 29, are not politicians or negotiators. Rather, they, as ordinary yet concerned citizens, represent the general populace of their respective states. GetUp emphasizes the need for world leaders to hear the “moral voice” of those who are being, even now, adversely affected by climate change. In addition, GetUp states that they have “a plan to make sure their voices are heard,” and “have looked into the logistics and found a way to ensure world leaders meet with our delegation,” provided that they receive funding to send the young delegates.

While AOSIS representative Albert Binger urged Canada to bring a more climate-friendly negotiating position to Copenhagen on the 25th of November and other AOSIS negotiators continue to plead for increased binding emissions, GetUp’s novel approach may turn a few heads at the climate talks later this month. However, this Australian campaign needs help acquiring adequate financing to send these islanders from their tropical homes to Denmark. Click here to donate, or to read the profiles of the participating island delegates.

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