vcan-climate-strike-vanuatuThe Vanuatu Strike for Climate Change Emergency is taking place in Port Vila today.

96.3 Buzz FM’s Coffee and Controversy show on Wednesday 18th of September had Willie Misak, Vanuatu Climate Action Network (VCAN) Coordinator and Paula Leo of 350 Vanuatu as panelists who shared more about this event.

The strike is a stand in solidarity with the Fridays For Future, the Global Climate Strike and Extinction Rebellion movement.

The VCAN is staging the event in collaboration with the Government of Vanuatu through the Ministries of Climate Change, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Education as this collaboration will enable Vanuatu to add its voice in solidarity with other nations who have declared a climate emergency.

VCAN encompasses Oxfam, Care International, World Vision, Vanuatu Environment & Science Society, Green Wave,350 Vanuatu, Action Aid, Red Cross and Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change.

VCAN Coordinator Misak says despite Vanuatu having a really small emission of 0.001% of the global total of greenhouse gases, the government has a goal in place for Vanuatu to have zero emissions by 2030.

He says since Vanuatu does not have a lot of emissions like the more industrialized nations, it is good to act now and be a good example to other Pacific nations and even the world.

He says if Vanuatu can lead the way it does not stop the bigger nations from doing what a small nation like Vanuatu is doing.

Currently Vanuatu faces the threat of its average temperature being elevated by 3 degrees Celsius, right now efforts are being made to keep it 1.5 degrees Celsius below the global average.

Mr Misak is hopeful the strikes such as this can pave the way for litigation to take place so bigger nations or businesses who contribute to global warming could one day be held accountable for damages which they have caused or are causing to the environment.

He said the Pacific region has many low-lying islands who are at risk more than other parts of the world. Mr Misak says Australia’s proposed carbon and emissions tax is an example of how litigation against these polluters could work, as those companies would be taxed on the amount of emissions they produce daily.

Miss Leo says several environmental coalitions around the world are working with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to make Ecocide a punishable crime at an international level.

If successful, then countries like Vanuatu can sue the larger industrialized nations for environmental damage. Unfortunately, there are no international laws at this stage so no one can be sued.

Mr Misak says looking at ecocide from a local perspective, one can see smaller cases of ecocide in our islands, activities such as destroying mangroves and not respecting protected environmental areas.

He mentions ecocide needs to be put into a more local context since there is still a major lack of knowledge amongst many Ni-Vanuatu.

Mr Misak says as individuals, there are a few things that one can do to combat climate change. He says by doing little things such as switching off lights when not using them, reducing waste, walking to work and planting more trees helps in a lot of ways. Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Miss Leo also adds on that using the three Rs -reuse, reduce and recycle saves the planet a lot.

She says one should not burn rubbish unnecessarily and shop more at secondhand shops for clothes as that is a great way to reduce the amount of waste.

She says another great example of waste reduction is UNELCO using coconut oil bio fuel and making efforts on cutting down on the use of fossil fuels to power its generators. She also acknowledged 96.3 Buzz FM’s contribution to waste reduction in the way that paper that is printed on gets reprinted on its blank side when needed.

Miss Leo says the program today is set to kick off at 8am today with a livestream on Facebook. She says this is action hour and a chance for students in the provinces to share their view on climate change.

From 9am to 10am there will be a radio talkback show where members of the public can voice their opinions on climate change issues. She says from 10am to 10:30am there will be a call for solidarity and they will have six different checkpoints around Port Vila.

From 11am to 12pm, there will be a march from Chantillys on the Bay to the Seafront Stage, followed by poetry reading and a declaration of climate emergency. From 12:30pm to 1pm, there will be video shows from the international media followed by live entertainment of music and cultural performances. There will also be quizzes on during that time.

Miss Leo says climate change is not just about governments and NGOs, it is everyone’s business.

Climate change is a growing issue around the world and the Pacific Islands will be the most affected due to their vulnerability. The possibility of more frequent category 5 cyclones like Pam may be a result of climate change, according to scientific research.

There will be a lot of interesting displays so head down to the Seafront today and join in the strike for the climate emergency.