17 Feb 2005

Protestors in Fiji condemn American and Australian refusal to ratify Kyoto Protocol

11:55 am on 17 February 2005

Strong protests have been held in Fiji against the refusal of the United States and Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol is aimed at reducing the level of Greenhouse gases and slowing down global warming and sea level rises.

It came into effect yesterday after 140 countries had ratified it but two of the biggest polluters in the world, the United States and Australia, have refused.

During a protest held in Suva yesterday, about 400 residents sent postcards to the US president, George Bush, and the Australian prime minister, John Howard, urging them to ratify the Protocol.

The postcards were delivered to the US embassy and the Australian High Commission.

Greenpeace energy campaigner, Jyotishma Rajan, says the presentation of the postcards was part of the peaceful demonstration against the two countries' stand not to ratify the Protocol.

Ms Rajan says Pacific islanders are vulnerable to climate change with their environment suffering and their coastlines eroding.

She says if Australia really wants to be good neighbours with the Pacific as it says, it should ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

An American who has been a longtime resident of Fiji, Frank Eggers, has blamed the influence of the Christian right on President Bush for the US stand.

Mr Eggers says many of the Christian right believe the end of the world is coming soon, so there is no need to be concerned about the destruction of the environment.

He says although theirs is only a minority opinion, they have a lot of influence.