Torres Strait islanders lodge world first complaint over Australia's inaction on climate change

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-13 13:42:56|Editor: ZX
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SYDNEY, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Inhabitants of Australia's Torres Strait Islands lodged a world first complaint with the United Nations on Monday, alleging that the government's inaction on climate change has threatened their existence and violated their human right to life and culture.

The Torres Strait Islands are a low lying group of islands off Australia's north-eastern tip in the waters between Papua New Guinea and the State of Queensland.

Although the islands are officially a part of Queensland State, they have been home to the Torres Strait Island people for thousands of years before colonisation.

A group of eight representatives authored an official complaint to the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, alleging that the Australian government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has failed to adequately cut emissions and build defences such as sea walls.

"We're currently seeing the effects of climate change on our islands daily, with rising seas, tidal surges, coastal erosion and inundation of our communities," one of the authors, Kabay Tamu said.

Environmental law charity, ClientEarth, has adopted the case which is the first legal action worldwide brought by inhabitants of low-lying islands against a nation state, as well as being the first climate change litigation brought against the Australian government.

"The predicted impacts of climate change in the Torres Strait, including the inundation of ancestral homelands, would be catastrophic for its people," ClientEarth's lead lawyer for the case Sophie Marjanac said.

The group is seeking a commitment by the Australian government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and contribute 14 million U.S. dollars for protective infrastructure such as seawalls and sustained investment in long-term adaptation measures to ensure the islands can continue to be inhabited.