Thursday, 11 December 2008 5:32 AM

The Climate Crisis Waits for No One

Pacific Islander urges Australia to set strong target.

December 09, 2008

Poznan, Poland - Greenpeace today criticised governments at the Poznan talks for not taking the situation seriously as the negotiations enter their second week. Despite increasingly alarming scientific conclusions reconfirming the urgency of the climate crisis, many governments are entrenched in the same positions they've had for years.

"Everyone here is waiting for somebody else," Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Trish Harrup said.

"Government officials are waiting for their ministers to arrive and the ministers are waiting for the Obama administration - but the climate crisis waits for nobody.

"Every day that goes by without progress is cause for alarm."

The situation is most dire for the South Pacific Islands - some of which could be submerged by climate change induced sea level rises.

Leah Wickham, a Greenpeace volunteer from Fiji, who is part of a youth delegation to Poznan, said countries like Australia had not demonstrated political will to fast track negotiations.

"Now is the time to get serious about climate action," Ms Wickham said at the opening of Greenpeace's climate rescue station in central Poznan.

"If they fail to do so, they will literally be signing the death warrants of South Pacific islanders.

"Can Australia sleep at night knowing that we will drown?"

While many developing countries are being constructive, there is virtually no leadership from the industrialised world.

"The only visionary leadership at these talks is coming from the smallest country with the most to lose: Tuvalu, which has put forward its vision of a 1.5 degree C limit to temperature rise" Ms Harrup said.

Ministers arrive in Poznan on Thursday and will discuss what is referred to as a "shared vision" which should lay out ambitious goals for avoiding a climate catastrophe and set the parameters for a global agreement in Copenhagen at the end of next year.

But there appears to be little common ground around this vision, with many developed countries - including Australia - reluctant to put forward targets for emissions reductions.

"There is no sign of any kind of shared vision for climate protection and what we have at the moment can best be described as impaired vision," Ms Harrup said.

Countries like Australia, Canada and Japan are unable to see past the short term interests of big energy users and seem to be blind to the looming climate crisis.

"They are backing furiously away from an agreement on targets made only a year ago," Ms Harrup said.

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