Published: Sat, August 17, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Australia faces pressure from Pacific nations to address climate change

Australia faces pressure from Pacific nations to address climate change

Regional leaders met at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu this week, where smaller island-dominated states sought a consensus on climate goals.

As expected, climate change has taken center stage as the annual summit of the Pacific Islands Forum gets underway in Tuvalu.

But Sopoaga conceded that a climate statement and communique released in the early hours of Friday morning after 12 hours of tense negotiations fell short of expectations.

Speaking after the marathon leaders meeting, Mr Morrison said he wanted the SIS group to be able to express its views "freely" but that its statement was not binding on the rest of the forum.

But there was no direct mention of ending coal-fired power, while calls to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050 were couched as suggestions rather than demands.

Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama says the communique "settled for the status quo".

"Watered-down climate language has real consequences -- like water-logged homes, schools, communities, and ancestral burial grounds".

Mr Morrison forced a "qualification" to the declaration, disappointing forum host Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga.

"No matter how much money you put on the table, it doesn't give you the excuse to not do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coal mines", said Enele Sopoaga.

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"I think we can say we should've done more work for our people", he told reporters.

Australia is understood to have spent the last few days manoeuvring to have the communique's wording watered down from that of the small island states. "I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu", Sopoaga said.

Morrison's predecessor Malcolm Turnbull used social media to urge Australia to make significant climate change commitments.

The comments were reportedly made at a business function in Wagga Wagga on Friday. "And I showed respect towards that in my engagements. we showed up, we're stepping up, and it's getting on", said Morrison. Growing fears that China could build naval bases throughout the Pacific have further exacerbated tensions.

"Their enemies [Australia and its allies] are not our enemies", he said.

Attended by leaders of Australia, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Pacific nations said they were disappointed with the revisions.

Wu would also meet with officials from other like-minded nations to exchange opinions on trends and challenges across the Indo-Pacific region, she said, adding that the ministry would determine whether to reveal the names of the nations involved after the meetings.

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