Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands during an event to launch the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, in central London on February 4, 2020. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / POOL / AFP / Getty Images

The U.K. government has proposed delaying the annual international climate negotiations for a full year after its original date to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
The Upcycled Food Association announced on May 19 that they define upcycled foods as ones that "use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment." Minerva Studio / Getty Images

By Jared Kaufman

Upcycled food is now an officially defined term, which advocates say will encourage broader consumer and industry support for products that help reduce food waste. Upcycling—transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products—has been gaining ground in alternative food movements for several years but had never been officially defined.

Read More Show Less
A couple has a lunch under plexiglass protection designed by Christophe Gernigon at the H.A.N.D restaurant, on May 27, 2020 in Paris, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP via Getty Images

By Thomas A. Russo

As restaurants and bars reopen to the public, it's important to realize that eating out will increase your risk of exposure to the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
A Malinois dog is taught to find a piece of fabric infected with COVID-19 bacteria during a training session, on May 13, 2020, in France. JOEL SAGET / AFP / Getty Images

By Alexander Freund

In a pilot study at the University of Helsinki, dogs trained as medical diagnostic assistants were taught to recognize the previously unknown odor signature of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus. And they learned with astonishing success: After only a few weeks, the first dogs were able to accurately distinguish urine samples from COVID-19 patients from urine samples of healthy individuals.

Read More Show Less
Locusts swarm over Jaipur, India on May 25, 2020. Vishal Bhatnagar / NurPhoto via Getty Images

India is facing its worst desert locust invasion in nearly 30 years, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More Show Less
A baby humpback whale tail slaps in the Pacific Ocean in front of the West Maui Mountains. share your experiences / Moment / Getty Images

The depths of the oceans are heating up more slowly than the surface and the air, but that will undergo a dramatic shift in the second half of the century, according to a new study. Researchers expect the rate of climate change in the deep parts of the oceans could accelerate to seven times their current rate after 2050, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Opinions vary among healthcare providers and the conditions of their patients, as well as the infection rate in their communities and availability of personal protective equipment. Aekkarak Thongjiew / EyeEm Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

Should you skip your annual checkup? The answer would have been a resounding "no" if you asked most doctors before the pandemic.

But with the risk of COVID-19, the answer isn't so clear anymore.

Read More Show Less