Quantcast

Indigenous Australians Challenge Government Over Climate at UN

Climate
© picture-alliance

A group of indigenous Australians plans to submit a complaint to the UN that accuses Australia of failing to act on climate change.


The group resides in the low-lying Torres Strait Islands in the country's north. It argues that Australia's lack of climate change policies is putting their culture and ancestral homeland at risk.

"Tides are rising every year, flooding homes, lands and important cultural sites. Rising sea temperatures are blighting the health of the marine environments around the islands, by bleaching the coral and acidifying the ocean," a statement from the indigenous group said.

"We are seeing this effect on our land and on the social and emotional well-being of our communities who practice culture and traditions," said Kabay Tamu, one of the petitioners.

"Many Islanders are worried that their islands could quite literally disappear in their lifetimes without urgent action," the group said.

The islanders are set to ask the UN to rule that existing international human rights law requires Australia to reduce its emissions to at least 65% below 2005 levels by 2030.

They will also demand that the government invest some $14 million in emergency infrastructure, such as sea walls, to protect Torres Strait communities.

A Human Rights Case

The case represents the first time that government inaction on climate change has been equated with a violation of human rights.

"Climate change is fundamentally a human rights issue," said Sophie Marjanac, the lead lawyer on the case.

"Australia's continued failure to build infrastructure to protect the islands, and to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, constitutes a clear violation of the islanders' rights to culture, family and life," she added.

The announcement comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the world was "not on track" to confine the rise in global warming and decried a "fading political will to act."

Australia is due to hold parliamentary elections on Saturday. Climate change has been a central issue, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's opponents accusing him and his government of not supporting emission reduction efforts, while backing the expansion of coal mining.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Large food companies are following in the footsteps of fast-food restaurants such as Burger King and KFC by offering meat alternatives. Getty Images

By Elizabeth Pratt

  • Hormel, Kellogg's, and Kroger are among the large companies now planning to offer "fake meat" products at grocery stores.
  • Experts say the trend toward plant-based meats coincides with consumers' desires to eat less meat.
  • However, experts urge consumers to closely check package labels as a product isn't necessarily healthy just because it's described as plant-based.

In grocery stores and fast-food outlets around the U.S., a revolution is taking place.

Read More Show Less
Colombia rainforest. Marcel Oosterwijk / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Torsten Krause

Many of us think of the Amazon as an untouched wilderness, but people have been thriving in these diverse environments for millennia. Due to this long history, the knowledge that Indigenous and forest communities pass between generations about plants, animals and forest ecology is incredibly rich and detailed and easily dwarfs that of any expert.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
picture-alliance / Newscom / R. Ben Ari

By Wesley Rahn

Plastic byproducts were found in 97 percent of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS

Written by James Roland

Hot yoga has become a popular exercise in recent years. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.

Read More Show Less
Lara Hata / iStock / Getty Images

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

Rice is a staple in many people's diets. It's filling, inexpensive, and a great mild-tasting addition to flavorful dishes.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hinterhaus Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Lindsay Campbell

From pastries to plant-based—we've got you covered.

Read More Show Less
An image of the trans-alaskan oil pipeline that carries oil from the northern part of Alaska all the way to valdez. This shot is right near the arctic national wildlife refuge. kyletperry / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Trump administration has initialized the final steps to open up nearly 1.6 million acres of the protected Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to allow oil and gas drilling.

Read More Show Less
Westend61 / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Vegetarianism has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Read More Show Less