Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul are community leaders from the Guda Maluyligal Nation at the northernmost part of Australia in the Torres Strait. They have turned to the Federal Court to argue that the Australian Government has failed to take serious climate action.
For thousands of years, Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul’s Indigenous ancestors have lived on the islands. Now, because of climate change, their way of life, traditional knowledge systems, cultural practices and spiritual connections that have been passed down from generation to generation could be broken forever.
“Climate change is already here: storm surges are getting worse and the seasons have changed as well. Our gardens now get flooded with salt water, and our homes, cemetery, school and community centre are all at risk. There are also a lot more mosquitos, so the risk of catching malaria is greater. If we become climate refugees, we will lose everything: our homes, community, culture, stories, and identity. We can keep our stories and tell our stories but we won’t be connected to Country because Country will disappear.” Uncle Paul
During November, Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul have been in Naarm (Melbourne) at the Federal Court, arguing that the Australian government is taking insufficient action to prevent harm from climate change, resulting in the destruction of their lands and culture.
The Australian government currently states that by 2030 it will reduce emissions 43% below 2005 levels. This is not enough to save the Torres Strait Islands. Leading climate scientists on the Climate Targets Panel calculate Australia’s greenhouse emissions need to be reduced by 74% by 2030.