Indigenous group in Australia takes climate change concerns to UN

                            

A group of Indigenous Australians that accuses the country’s government of breaching its human rights by failing to act on climate change is taking its concerns to the UN in a world-first case.

Eight Torres Strait Islander petitioners from the low-lying islands off the north-eastern tip of Australia say the government’s lack of policies to address climate change puts their culture and ancestral homeland at risk.

The petitioners, who will formally submit their complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, are being supported by lawyers with Client Earth, an environmental law non-profit organisation.

“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 petitioners said.

“We are seeing this effect on our land and on the social and emotional wellbeing of our communities, who practice culture and traditions,” said Kabay Tamu, one of the petitioners.

The Islanders have accused the Australian government of having no policies in place to meet its emissions reduction target and of continuing to push the interests of fossil fuel industries.

“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. (dpa/NAN)

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