Now Reading
‘Call it what it is – climate crisis, not just change,’ says Pacific professor

‘Call it what it is – climate crisis, not just change,’ says Pacific professor

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr

By Susana Suisuiki, RNZ Pacific journalist

Fijian professor and researcher in Pacific Studies, Aotearoa New Zealand, says that rising sea temperatures and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters have prompted a change in terminology.

Professor Steven Ratuva, who is the co-leader for a New Zealand-government supported research project called Protect Pacific, said the term “climate change” doesn’t fully address the impacts seen throughout the Pacific and elsewhere globally.

Dr. Ratuva is the director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific StudiesThe University of Canterbury said that it was time to stop referring to climate change.

“The word climate change has been around for some time, people have been using it over and over again,” he said.

“Of course climate changes, it’s naturally induced seen through weather, but the situation now shows it’s not just changing, but we’re reaching a level of a crisis — the increasing number of category five cyclones, the droughts, the erosion, heating of the ocean, the coral reefs dying in the Pacific, and the impact on people’s lives.

“All these things are happening at a very fast pace.

“So the words climate change do not address the dramatic changes taking place so we need another new way of framing it so the term climate crisis is being used now because we are right in the middle of it.”

Protect PacificThis research project examines climate crisis in the Pacific region. It is led by the University of Canterbury, the University of the South Pacific, and the New Zealand government.

The recent Oceans Conference in Palau saw the announcement by Aupito William Sio, New Zealand Minister, that his The government will Allocate US$3 Million Dr Ratuva said that most of the money would be used to fund research to be done on 16 Pacific islands.

The Pacific would lead the research project. Dr Ratuva stated that it was an opportunity for them to participate in a study that considered their lived experiences.

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry with Palau’s President Surangel Whipps Jr. … Image: US State Department

However, he added that the Pacific’s heavy dependence on aid had meant the region had had to look elsewhere for climate expertise rather than relying on their own indigenous knowlege.

Dr Ratuva stated that the aid had not allowed Pacific people to express their independence fully.

See Also
31 Global Citizens Share How Climate Change Affects Them Every Day

“The pattern of economic development, the pattern of governance, the pattern of doing things, has always been reliant on aid donors — they define what has to be done with the money.

“Often the Pacific climate policies are driven by the international narratives from the United Nations, from the various aid donors so it’s important that the evidence should be generated within the Pacific using our own expertise.”

This article is republished in accordance with a community partnership agreement.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.