NEWS

Now On To Canberra With Aussies Facing The Climate Change Heat

Instead of stepping up, Australia had side-stepped an opportunity along with its ‘Pacific Family’ to convince the world that climate change is a crisis. How this pans out next month
19 Aug 2019 11:38
Now On To Canberra With Aussies Facing The Climate Change Heat
Split on climate change action... Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama did not mince his words and called out his “Vuvale Partner” Australian PM Scott Morrison (left) for making “insulting and condescending” remarks.

Instead of stepping up, Australia had side-stepped an opportunity along with its ‘Pacific Family’ to convince the world that climate change is a crisis.

How this pans out next month when Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama makes his first official visit to Australia will be interesting.

After a watered-down communique was released at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, Mr Bainimarama did not mince his words and called out his “Vuvale Partner” Scott Morrison for making “insulting and condescending” remarks.

He was referring to Australia’s refusal to support the Pacific Islands push for more climate change action.

Mr Morrison maintained Australia’s pro-coal policy and instead pledged AU$500 million (FJ$738.22m) in aid to Pacific Island nations to invest in renewable energy and climate change resilience.

Australia did not commit to any target of below 1.5 degrees, consistent with the Paris Agreement. Mr Bainimarama had told The Guardian’s Kate Lyons that he thought “Morrison was a good friend of mine; apparently not.

“The prime minister at one stage, because he was apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific. He said: ‘I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very insulting.”

Yesterday Australian shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong weighed in on the issue.

Speaking to ABC’s Insiders, she said Mr Morrison has diminished Australia’s influence in the Pacific with his refusal to take climate change seriously.

“This Prime Minister has presided over a reduction in Australia’s influence in the Pacific and he has damaged our relationships.”

Ms Wong is a former Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water.

She, however, maintained that coal remains an important industry for Australia, and it remains part of the global energy mix.

Mr Bainimarama said before departing Tuvalu on Saturday that his meeting with Mr Morrison next month would take place in an atmosphere of friendly engagement while he continues to press the case strongly on behalf of the Pacific nations for 1.5 degrees.

Edited by Percy Kean

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