COP26 to determine the fate of low-lying Pacific countries

COP26 to determine the fate of low-lying Pacific countries

Tuvaluan Maina Talia rails against people who argue that when it comes to climate change we are all in the same boat.

While the impact of climate change is profound and will impact everyone on the planet, its effects are most intensely felt by low, lying poor communities such as his homeland of Tuvalu.

The world again has an opportunity to take decisive action on climate change as its leaders meet in Glasgow for the COP26 UN Climate Change summit.

Maina, a doctoral student who is residing at United Theological College, will be in Glasgow for COP26 seeking to give voice to the plight of his country as a representative of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network.

Speaking to Insights prior to departing, he said his country – the highest point of which is only three metres above sea level was in peril.

“ The impact of climate change falls disproportionately on countries such as Tuvalu, we are on the frontline and we are a poor community with little resources. For people to sit in luxury and in relative safety and say we are all in the same boat … I rail against this thinking,” he said.

Maina said there must be urgent action stemming from COP26.

“The Australian government can definitely do more, it is not enough to make a pledge for 2050. There needs to be a target for 2030 and there needs urgent action now. It is no good just focusing on 2050,” he said.

Maina is a doctrinal student at Charles Sturt University, his study focuses on the geopolitics of climate change and indigenous communities with a special reference to the concept of neighbour as outlined in Luke 10. This chapter includes the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“I will go to COP26 with hope, hope that the leaders will take action,” he said.

Maina praised the work of churches in Australia and Tuvalu in advocating for action on climate change. He also praised the programs supporting women in Tuvalu that were funded by Uniting World.

Meanwhile on the eve of COP26,  Uniting NSW.ACT has set a net-zero carbon target for 2040.  

The carbon-neutral goal has seen the employer of over 9,000 people already achieve some ambitious targets since commencing the business sustainably journey in 2009.  

 “Uniting has partnered with the NSW Sustainability Advantage program and the Aged Care Cluster to understand the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs) and their application to our work,” said Uniting Chief Executive Tracey Burton. 

 “We are passionate about reducing our carbon footprint and have been carefully monitoring our environmental impacts when building, operating, maintaining, and improving our buildings and retirement communities across NSW and the ACT,” said Mrs Burton. 

Uniting’s record in emissions reduction is strong. Between 2010 and 2021, Uniting has reduced its carbon emissions by 26% through solar panel systems, energy-efficient lighting, other energy efficiency initiatives and better buildings through sustainable design and construction initiatives.  

 “We have 9,760 solar panels on the roofs of 34 services across NSW and the ACT making us one of the largest renewable energy generators in the aged care industry. During the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak it is also our highest period of power demand which allows us to use solar for washing, meal preparation and air conditioning,” said Mrs Burton. 

 Uniting is part of the Uniting Church’s Synod of NSW and the ACT and has always been a strong advocate in acting on climate change and urges the wise use of energy and the protection of the environment for future generations’ use and enjoyment. 

Martin Thomas


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