Pacific rebukes Australian obstruction at regional meeting, warns ‘watered-down climate language has real consequences’

SYDNEY, Aug 16, 2019 - The Morrison Government has single-handedly bullied regional leaders into accepting a weakened Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) communique that removes all mentions of coal, and reportedly removes calls for urgent climate action, after 12 hours of debate that finished last night.

Tuvalu prime minister and forum chair Enele Sopoaga described the marathon session as a “tough, difficult struggle” after PIF members eventually agreed to the final wording of the communique. 

“Climate change is the greatest threat to the Pacific. It is already affecting us. This is known by scientists, those of us living on the frontlines and literally every person of reasonable intelligence,” Greenpeace Head of Pacific, Joseph Moeono-Kolio said.

“We all know that climate change is caused and exasperated by the burning of coal yet we’re still here, dancing around the problem to appease the Australian Federal Government’s mates in the coal industry” 

“For the Morrison Government to then remove any reference to coal in the Pacific Islands Forum communique shows where Mr Morrison’s priorities really lie. It shows his contempt for the region he calls ‘family’.”

“This move shows that despite the Pacific’s best efforts, Australia is willing to bend to the will of a few rich coal barons and forsake its responsibilities to its own people and their Pacific neighbours. How can we set a path to alleviate the climate crisis when discussion of coal, the principal cause of that crisis, is off-limits?”   

“Mr Morrison is trying to walk both sides of the road, offering money to help the Pacific deal with climate impacts, while at the same time presiding over an utterly shameless coalocracy. Mr Morrison’s attempted tightrope act has landed Australia in this utterly unedifying debacle, and he should be condemned for it in the harshest terms.”

“That is what it has come to: 17 Pacific leaders including New Zealand in agreement fighting to save our islands, while one outlier, Australia, just heaps more coal on the fire.”

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was also critical of the language in the final communique, which Tuvalu’s Prime Minister confirmed had been softened at the behest of Australia.

We came together in a nation that risks disappearing to the seas, but unfortunately, we settled for the status quo in our communique,” Mr Bainimarama wrote on Twitter. 

“Watered-down climate language has real consequences –– like water-logged homes, schools, communities, and ancestral burial grounds.”


For interviews: 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

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