PACIFIC ISLAND SCHOOL CHILDREN

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WWF SOUTH PACIFIC PROGRAMME Suva, Fiji Islands

NEWS RELEASE November 10, 2000

RESPOND TO CLIMATE CHANGE CAMPAIGN

More than 15,000 signatures have been gathered from the Pacific region in response to a Climate Change campaign organized by WWF - South Pacific, PCRC and Greenpeace. According to the organizers, the numbers are overwhelming considering the lack of awareness of the impacts of Climate Change in the Pacific, the small time frame in which the campaign was launched, the relative isolation of communities and the time it takes for postal services to reach some areas. The response from Pacific Island secondary school students in particular was significant as this accounted for more than 80% of the signatures collected.

Bernadette Masianini of WWF said, "That young people have responded is of significance to the campaign, as they are the ones to inherit the legacy of the results of talks from COP6."

The purpose behind the campaign was to raise the awareness of the impacts of Climate Change for Pacific Islanders and to support Pacific island leaders in taking a strong stand at the Climate talks at COP6 in The Hague, Netherlands, November 13-24. The changes in climate will have a bigger impact on small low-lying countries into which category most of the Pacific islands belong.

The impacts of Climate Change are already being felt in the South Pacific region, in particular with coral reefs, which surround all of the islands in the region. In a Greenpeace report on Coral Reefs released during the recent Forum Ministers meeting in Tarawa, Kiribati, it was stated that global warming could cause a massive economic decline across at least 13 tiny Pacific nations in the next 20 years. Because most Pacific island nations rely heavily on tourism and fishing, degradation of the reefs would have a direct economic impact on them. The Greenpeace report warns that if global warming continues as predicted by United Nations carbon dioxide emission modeling, the Pacific will lose most of its coral reefs before the end of this century.

With more than 10,000 voices from school children in the region supporting the Pacific island leaders, the organizers of the campaign are confident that the Pacific island leaders at the meeting will take a strong stand to ensure that the rules of implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will ensure the reduction of domestic emissions in the industrialized countries. The number of signatures gathered from the campaign has been communicated to Pacific Island Ministers of Environment who will be attending the COP 6 talks from November 13-24. The signatures will also be added to the WWF Climate Voice campaign that is trying to get 10 million signatures via the Internet.

Although the campaign has come to an end, this is just the beginning of raising awareness of the climate change impacts in the region, the organizers look forward to more awareness raising of this issue. WWF South Pacific, PCRC and Greenpeace would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who lent their voice to their petition, in particular secondary school children and teachers of the South Pacific region.

For more information, contact: Bernadette Masianini Ph: 679 315 533 Email: [email protected] 

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