Pacific leader warns Australia

2015-09-08 18:33
Inhabitants of Kiritimati coral atoll building a stone seawall to struggle against sea level rise caused by global warming. (AFP)

Inhabitants of Kiritimati coral atoll building a stone seawall to struggle against sea level rise caused by global warming. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Port Moresby - Australia should consider leaving the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) if it cannot accept the regional body's firm stance on climate change, Kiribati President Anote Tong said on Tuesday.

Tong said global warming had left small island nations fighting for their future and there was no room for compromise on the issue at this week's PIF meeting in Papua New Guinea.

The 16-nation grouping consists mainly of small island nations including Kiribati, together with Australia and New Zealand, and the two developed nations have been accused of dragging their feet on climate change.

Tong said the island nations wanted to send an unequivocal message ahead of climate talks in Paris later this year that average global warming should be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

If Australia disagreed, it should reconsider its membership of the PIF, he said.

"It will be incumbent upon them... how relevant would their presence be?" he told reporters.

The Kiribati leader, who last year finalised the purchase of a block of land in Fiji in case rising tides force his people to relocate, said compromise would be "a betrayal of trust".

"We cannot negotiate this, we cannot be bought by aid on this one," he said.

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has refused to attend the PIF while Australia and New Zealand remain full members, saying the wealthy nations dominate the body.

Coalition of the selfish

Bainimarama, who has sent his foreign minister to Port Moresby in his place, last week said Canberra and Wellington were part of a "coalition of the selfish" that was refusing to take meaningful action on climate change.

He said Australia and New Zealand should be relegated from full PIF members to "development partners", which would give them observer status on the sidelines like the EU, China and India.

The PIF in recent years has taken a leading role in raising global awareness about climate change, with member nations bearing the brunt of its impact even though their carbon emissions are minute.

For more than a decade, its annual summit has heard details of eroding coastlines, increasingly destructive storms and crops ruined by encroaching seawater.

The PIF summit opened on Tuesday night with dancing involving warriors in traditional mud helmets and body paint. It continues until Thursday.

Island leaders have described the UN-brokered COP21 talks in Paris in December as the last chance for the world to reach a binding agreement that can secure their future.

Read more on:    australia  |  fiji  |  kiribati  |  climate change

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


How to open a beer bottle without an opener

Do the right thing and never be thirsty again…


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.