Increasingly positive steps have been taken toward reaching a
global deal on climate change in the lead up to the UN-brokered
climate summit currently underway in Cancun, Mexico. Hillary
Clinton's recent visit to the South Pacific, as well as
regional initiatives such as the Kiribati climate summit and the
Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment meeting, have been encouraging
and may signal the starting point to brokering a multi-national
positive declaration on climate change in Cancun.
During her recent visit to the region, US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton pledged US US$21 million in support of climate
change mitigation efforts across the South Pacific. Senator Clinton
further announced that the US Agency for International Development
(USAID) will open an office in Fiji, as a sign of
its regional commitment to tackling the issue of climate change
head on. It has been 15 years since the last USAID office operated
out of Fiji.
Although critics have suggested that the decision to open a
USAID office in Fiji has more to do with countering Chinese aid, it
is nonetheless an immense opportunity to fund crucial programs to
help counter the effect of climate change.
Other regional initiatives have also been encouraging.
A three-day Climate Change Conference was held in November in
Kiribati's capital Tarawa, which was attended by over 20
nations including delegates from China, Brazil, India, Australia
and New Zealand. The conference resulted in the signature of the
Ambo Declaration, a non-binding agreement that outlines some of the
objectives to be achieved at the Cancun summit.
The declaration called for more and immediate action to be
undertaken to address the causes and adverse impacts of climate
change. Although its content does not pioneer any new ground, it
can nonetheless be seen as a positive step toward a global
agreement, as it secured the approval of some notable resistors to
climate change discussions, most significantly China and India.
The President of Kiribati Anote Tong was pleased with the result
of the summit however also highlighted his disappointment at the
USA, England and Canada for choosing not to be part of the
declaration, instead opting for observer status.
Capping off a busy month for regional climate issues, Fiji
hosted the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment Meeting in Suva. The
meeting was a joint initiative between the World Bank, the Asian
Development Bank and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience
Commission (SOPAC). The meeting focused on
assessing the progress made in collecting building, infrastructure,
population and crop data to determine the level of catastrophe risk
faced by Pacific island countries1.
This review has abstracts of recent developments relating to pollution and contaminated land in Australian jurisdictions.
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