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Climate change impacts knock back Pacific development by decades, say advocates

Pacific Scoop - August 15, 2015

Michael Neilson Extreme weather events and other climate change impacts are setting development in the Pacific Islands back by decades, says a group of Pacific climate leaders.

Speaking in a seminar at Auckland earlier this month, TEAR Fund advocacy and education manager Murray Sheard said just as Pacific nations were bringing more people out of poverty than ever before, the effects of climate change were setting them back.

"The prevalence of disasters and the increasing intensity of disasters are effects of climate change, and in a few days it can undo 10 years of development."

The executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, Rachel Le Mesurier, said climate change was costing the region a lot of money, time and energy.

"We spend time with our partners in the Pacific, helping them build disaster resilience, and then what happens when a cyclone comes in, such as Cyclone Pam, it comes at such a strength that no matter what we have done all we can see is all the money and the effort and the energy our partners have put in be washed out to sea," she said.

Reverend Tufoe Lusama, founder of the Pacific Climate Action Network, said the threat of rising sea levels and more intensive cyclones meant any development while ignoring climate change would be pointless.

"If we look at it from a development point of view, we cannot develop without dealing with the issue of climate change. Because as we develop it will only be destroyed."

The seminar was part of the Pacific Climate Leaders Tour, organised by a collection of New Zealand NGOs, which brought Pacific church leaders to New Zealand to raise awareness of the effects of climate change in the Pacific Islands and to encourage New Zealand to help out its neighbour.

The tour began with a breakfast and an evening seminar in Auckland last Friday before heading down to Wellington and finishing in Christchurch.

[Michael Neilson is a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalist at AUT University.]

Source: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2015/08/climate-change-impacts-knock-back-pacific-development-by-decades-say-advocates/#more-25750.

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