Pacific Islands ask “bigger countries” to do more to tackle climate change

Pacific Islands ask “bigger countries” to do more to tackle climate change

A delegation of Pacific Island nations has called on “bigger countries” in the region to take a stronger approach to climate change.

During a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, Australia’s pacific neighbours warned that rising sea levels will destroy their communities unless more is done to respond to climate change.

Nauruan President and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Baron Waqa implied Australia could be doing more to make climate change a priority.

“The most vulnerable in the Pacific — we know who those countries are — and the bigger countries in the Pacific Islands Forum may have different attitudes towards this, but certainly we are trying our best to sing from the same song sheet,” President Waqa said.

“As we can see today, New Zealand has a lot of plans coming in, and New Zealand is a bigger country.

“It’s also important to understand that of the countries in the Pacific Islands Forum membership — we push hard, the islands. Maybe the bigger countries have a slightly different approach. I’d leave it at that.”

The UN has urged a 45% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, with a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Labor’s climate policy reflects those numbers ahead of the federal election this weekend, but the Coalition is aiming for a reduction of just 28% by 2030 with no targets for carbon neutrality.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malilegaoi said Australians would be faced with a choice on climate change on Saturday.

“I think we should not worry too much about it, the question will be answered by the voters themselves, and let us just keep our fingers crossed,” he said.

The UN Secretary-General outlined economic mechanisms to reduce emissions.

“First, shift taxes from salaries to carbon — tax pollution, not people,” Mr Guterres said.

“Second, stop subsidising fossil fuels. Taxpayer money should not be used to boost hurricanes, spread drought and heatwaves, melt glaciers, and bleach corals.

“Third, stop building new coal plants by 2020. We need a green economy, not a grey economy.”

Australia did not send a representative to the forum as the country is in caretaker mode until after the election, and was instead represented by a senior “observer”.

Further reading: Morrison’s Pacific trip needs to be more than a one-off

Balanced journalism is essential to keeping people properly informed. If you feel our coverage of this story is biased, please let us know.