PRESENTER: Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, is visiting Tuvalu and Kiribati today to present both nations' leaders with a comprehensive report on climate change.
The report is based on research by Australia's peak science body, the CSIRO, and the Bureau of Meteorology.
It predicts temperature increases of up to 1.3 degrees in Kiribati by 2030 and one degree in Tuvalu.
It also forecasts sea level rises of between 4 and 14 cm for the same period.
Mr Marles spoke to Canberra Correspondent Stephanie March a short time ago from Kiribati.
RICHARD MARLES: The report is predicting more severe storms in the future which, again, have a huge impact on a place like Kiribati and Tuvalu. Whenever a major storm comes through one of these countries it does enormous damage and requires a lot of reconstruction. The effect of that on the GDP of these countries compared to, say, the impact of a storm on our GDP is enormous. Some of the tropical cyclones in Queensland have had significant impact on Australia's GDP but the corresponding impact on a country like this is absolutely enormous.
STEPHANIE MARCH: How was the report received by the two leaders and what do you anticipate they'll be able to use the research for going forward?
RICHARD MARLES: Firstly, the report was received well but, obviously, very soberly in the case of Tuvalu. I'm presenting the report to the President of Kiribati tonight.
In Tuvalu there is an enormous sense of soberness about what is being faced and the significance of the position that these countries find themselves in. You can feel it very palpably when you visit Tuvalu.
But in terms of what it enables these countries to do, one of the most obvious points is that last year Tuvalu experienced one of its worst droughts on record. Because it has such a fragile water security system in the first instance, it doesn't take much of a drought to put enormous stress on water security. In October last year Tuvalu came within six days of using all its drinking water so it was really on the edge in terms of water supplies.
Now, knowing what is predicted for the future means that water collection mechanisms such as water tanks become a real priority in Tuvalu. That is something that the Australian Government has been helping the government of Tuvalu with.
But, this report will enable these countries to better manage these situations. One of the opportunities for Tuvalu is the prediction of heavier rainfall. In terms of water tanks, that does mean more water is available for collection.
Now, that's an obvious initial response to the way you can manage public policy with this kind of information. Understanding what's going to happen to your environment is completely fundamental to being able to plan for it.
STEPHANIE MARCH: What else was discussed during your meeting with Tuvalu's Prime Minister Willy Telavi today?
RICHARD MARLES: This has been a good opportunity in Tuvalu as well as in Kiribati later today to talk about climate change and present this report but also to touch base with both countries in the lead-up to the Pacific Island Forum later this month.
Australia is looking at putting a real focus on the empowerment of women at the Pacific Island Forum and I spoke to them about our thoughts in relation to that.
I've also been able to talk to them about the seasonal workers program which, of course, kicked off in a permanent way on 1 July this year. We have the inaugural Pacific Seasonal Worker Program conference happening in Sydney right now.
In the case of Tuvalu, they're entering the program for the first time, so I was able to talk to them about events at the conference and what they can look forward to. I'm really pleased that we've been able to finalise the agreement between Tuvalu and Australia to enable Tuvalu to participate in the program.
In the case of Kiribati, they were part of the pilot program but there is documentation required to make sure they are able to participate in the program proper and we'll be doing that while we're here in Kiribati.
- Parliamentary Secretary's Office: (02) 6277 4330
- Departmental Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555