Why is the Pacific so frustrated with Australia’s stance on climate?

It’s a matter of life and death for countries like Tuvalu, where the Pacific Islands Forum is being held this week.

The Australia Institute
Aug 14 · 3 min read
Image: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Today, the Australia Institute released new research which shows in black and white exactly why the Pacific are so frustrated with Australia’s stance on climate action.

The Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga made a plea directly to the Australian Media this morning on RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas.

“We are already crossing the red lines to keep, to save, the small island countries and to keep them afloat above water,” said Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga.

“We need to implement and recognise our obligations under the convention to avoid dangerous levels of emissions and climate change effect on people and current and future generations.

“So if it is a red line for Australia — coal mining not to touch that — I’m saying we are already crossing the red lines for the lives of the people of Tuvalu and many others.”

And it is not hard to see why Pacific nations are so frustrated. The controversial emissions loophole Australia intends to use to meet our Paris Targets is equal to around eight times the annual emissions of all Pacific Island nations including New Zealand, combined.

By using this loophole, the federal government is giving the green light to pollution equivalent to:

  • annual emissions of 77,919,000 cars on the road
  • emissions from 95 coal-fired power plants for a whole year.

Pacific Island nations could not be more clear— Australia must act on climate.

A meeting of the Pacific small island states on Tuesday resulted in a declaration directly challenging some of Australia’s policies, including calling for “an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines” and for all countries “to rapidly phase out their use of coal in the power sector”.

“If Australia is to be a climate leader at the Pacific Island Forum, the federal government needs to show it with meaningful action — and that begins with ruling out the use of Kyoto credits to meet climate change obligations,” says Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Director at The Australia Institute.

“The Government’s policy to use Kyoto credits is an insult to Pacific leaders. You can’t “step up” in the Pacific while stepping back on climate action.

“The Pacific Island Forum is focused on securing our future in the region — and there is no future without a secure and safe climate.

“Scott Morrison has a choice — Australia can be a leader in the region and a partner in combatting the impact of climate change, or we can continue to completely undermine any efforts by our Pacific partners by using these dodgy credits.” said Merzian.

The Australia Institute

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Canberra-based think tank conducting research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues in order to inform public debate > tai.org.au

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