Fiji's environmentalists hail Kyoto coming into force

Posted on 05 August 2008
Postcard to the President

WWF and its allies became creative in sending their message to President of the United States of America, George W Bush and Australian Prime Minster John Howard to ratify Kyoto Protocol.

Post cards signed by Pacific Islanders were delivering to United States of America and Australian Embassy in Fiji by WWF, Greenpeace and the World Council of Churches staff.

This stunt was part of activities planned for celebrating the Kyoto Protocol’s coming into effect earlier this year.

These three organizations joined forces to organize a series of events in Fiji to raise awareness on Kyoto Protocol and climate change.

The first was a workshop with the Fiji members of the World Council of Churches advising them on the impacts of climate change, renewable energy and the benefits of the Kyoto Protocol coming into force. On the following day, children painted their vision of a clean energy future; while the adult public signed postcards asking Bush/Howard to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

These postcards were then delivered to the Embassies, generating a lot of media coverage as well. In August 2004, Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase called on Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol saying, “Some of our own islands as well as as those of Kiribati and Tuvalu are under very real threat from rising sea levels. We cannot afford to remain silent”.

The Kyoto Protocol is an important first step to combat climate change. It is currently the only global agreement which addresses the issue of climate change. It calls for governments who have ratified to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of 1990 levels by 2012. The US and Australia are the only industrialised countries who have failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change is currently the greatest long term threat facing the planet, and its impact on Pacific Island cultures and economies will be substantial.

Postcard from Kyoto

In February this year, the World Council of Churches (WCC), with WWF SPP and Greenpeace celebrated in Suva the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the only international agreement that binds developed countries that have ratified it to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, to stop climate changing further.

One of the Kyoto celebration activities included a lunch time seminar with the Suva members of the WCC. The lunch tray was successful as it enhanced church leaders' awareness on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol. The churches also agreed, in an action plan, to implement renewable energy projects to fight climate change and to educate their congregations about climate change.

The WCC places a strong emphasis on awareness raising on climate change as majority of their congregation do not understand well climate change and how it impacts their lives.

The following activities were orgainsed by the WCC as follow-up activities to resolution from their Climate Change Consultations in Kiribati in early 2004.

Solomon Islands
The WCC are also running national campaigns in the Pacific. Mr. Luke Memua, of the Church of Melanesia, organized a week long awareness raising event in Honiara from July 29 to Aug 5th. Essentially targeted at youth, it brought together various sectors of the community concerned about the environment. Activities included speeches, poetry competition and a Honiara city and coastal clean up.

The aims of this campaign are to mobilize church youth to take care of the environment and to draft an action plan for future clean up campaigns in Honiara city.

Marshall Islands

Mr. Makoni Pulu, the Pacific Conference of Churches Youth Co-ordinator, organized a similar awareness campaign in the Marshall Islands in early July 2005. Almost a thousand youth participated in essay and poetry competitions, and open discussions on climate change impacts in their country.

Plans are underway to carry out similar activities in Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu.