Climate Change Differences Highlight Challenges that Face Forum in Future
Bainimarama says it is disappointing they failed to reach a consensus
Climate change differences that emerged at the end of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Funafuti highlighted the challenges the forum faces moving forward.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said it was disappointing that they could not reach a consensus.
“Some of these differences inevitably weaken the strength of our collective position on the climate threat,” he said.
“While there has been a great deal of agreement in Funafuti, it is clear that there are differences of opinion, emphasis and approach between the island nations and New Zealand, on the one hand, and Australia on the other.
“But I will continue to positively engage with our Australian friends and try to persuade them to make a more rapid transition from coal to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change.
“I look forward to my first official visit to Australia next month and to seeing, at first hand, some of the advances Australia is making in its energy transformation and renewable energy development.”
It is understood that Australia lobbied hard to water down the final communiqué on climate change.
It’s obvious it had put its national interest first because of the importance of the coal industry to its economy. It has tried to mitigate that by giving A$500 million to the region for climate change work.
This conflict of interest poses the big challenge that faces the Forum members in the future. With Mr Bainimarama back in the fold, there is renewed interest that the forum will be a lot stronger now. Australia and New Zealand have been prominent in regional development as aid donors. And as such they expect to have a proportionate say in the forum. Mr Bainimarama had been of the view that the smaller island nations should determine their own agenda, not dictated to by Australia and New Zealand. In the Pacific Islands
Development Forum the island nations lead, not Australia and New Zealand. In Funafuti, New Zealand stood with the small island developing states on climate change.
Mr Bainimarama said Pacific Islanders and climate-vulnerable people the world over would welcome “our collective declarations” on the urgent need for the world to step up its response to the climate threat.
“There is no doubt that holding our gathering in one of the Pacific atoll nations whose very existence is threatened has focussed the minds of our leaders on the scale of the disaster we face if the world fails to rise to this challenge.
“Fiji welcomes the commitment by all PIF members to cap global warming at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above that of the preindustrial age. This was the cornerstone of our Suva Declaration five years ago that was subsequently endorsed by the world’s scientists on the IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“Fiji also welcomes the commitment by all members to take whatever steps they determine necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net zero emissions by 2050, which is the only way to remain within the 1.5 degree threshold.
“As we have made clear, 1.5 is non-negotiable for Pacific Island countries. And we will resist all attempts to derail it in global forums. “In the Kainaki II Declaration, we now have a call to action from the Pacific that we will take to the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in New York next month and COP25 in Santiago, Chile, in December.”
Small island developing states will continue to play to the tune of Australia and New Zealand because the two development partners wave the big bucks. That’s the reality.
There is no doubt that holding our gathering in one of the Pacific atoll nations whose very existence is threatened has focussed the minds of our leaders on the scale of the disaster we face if the world fails to rise to this challenge. Voreqe Bainimarama Prime Minister
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Funafuti, Tuvalu.