Australia’s first Climate Hearing highlights need for urgent action

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 11 Nov 2009

People from Australia and around the world will testify to the devastating impacts that climate change is already having on their lives at Australia’s first Climate Hearing, on Monday 23 November at the State Library in Melbourne at 6pm.

 Oxfam’s Climate Hearing is one of more than 120 being held throughout the world in the lead-up to the crucial Copenhagen Summit, where the world is set to agree a global agreement on climate change.

It will be hosted by Channel 7 weather presenter Rob Gell (National President for Greening Australia and an Inaugural Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand),with panellists including IPCC scientist Professor David Karoly, comedian and social commentator Rod Quantock and Director of Climate Change for the Global Dialogue Foundation Emeretta Cross (originally from Kiribati and Tuvalu).

 People from Australia and the Pacific will join others from further afield, including Bangladesh and Peru, to give testimony – either live or by video – on the climate changes they are witnessing first-hand.  These include Bonny Francis, a Victorian small business owner who was burnt out on Black Saturday, and Shorbanu Khatun, a Bangladeshi woman who tells her tragic story of loss of food because of increased salinity of farmland and the destructive Cyclone Aila, which wiped out her village in May.

 Indigenous Australians Melanie Koolmatrie, Derek Walter and Tom Trevorrow of South Australia will speak on how Ngarrindjeri culture is being threatened by a lack of water in the lower reaches of the Murray River and The Coorong National Park.

 Oxfam Australia climate change spokeswoman Kelly Dent, also a panellist, said the testimony of women and men who were already struggling to cope with a changing climate was a powerful reminder of what was at stake in the international climate negotiations.

 “Australians live in the developed country most at risk from climate change, so have much in common with people in poorer countries whose lives and livelihoods are under threat if global warming continues at the present rate,” Ms Dent said.   “Their voices – and their demands for a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal – deserve to be heard by political leaders in Australia and across the globe.”

 She said despite recent talk of delay from rich countries, a global climate deal was still possible in Copenhagen, and governments must live up to the promise they made two years in Bali to finalise an agreement.

 Oxfam’s Climate Hearing will be held at the Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library, corner of Latrobe & Swanston Streets, Melbourne, on Monday 23 November from 6pm – 8pm.  RSVP with names of those attending to  Entry is free.

 Media enquiries to Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100, 

 Notes to editors:  Oxfam is calling for industrialised countries – responsible for most of the carbon in the atmosphere – to deliver at least $162 billion (US $150 billion) a year in new money to help poor countries adapt to the changing climate, and cut their domestic emissions as a whole by at least 40 per cent by 2020 (relative to 1990 levels).  Australia’s financial fair share is $3.8 billion (US $3.5 billion) which Oxfam says should not come from existing aid budgets.