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Distress in Pacific Island governments, over climate change, and Australia’s inaction on this

UN secretary-general meets Pacific leaders to discuss ‘global catastrophe’ of climate change ABC By foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic , 15 May 19

  • UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the Pacific is on the “front line of climate change”
  • Pacific leaders have voiced frustration over Australia’s failure to curb its emissions
  • Australian politicians say rapidly cutting emissions would be “ruinous” for Australia

Regional heavyweights had gathered at an historic climate change summit convened with the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

Mr Guterres is intent on building global momentum for sharper cuts to emissions, arguing that drastic action is necessary to stave off ecological disaster.

The Pacific is on the “front line of climate change”, Mr Guterres told the meeting.

“It has a unique moral authority to speak out. It’s time for the world to listen.”

Senior Australian officials at the meeting could do little else; sent in the place of Prime Minister Scott Morrison only days before the federal election, they were bound to observer status by the caretaker conventions.

As a result, Australia did not sign up to the final statement by Pacific leaders, which declared climate change a “global catastrophe” and called for “transformative action” to stop it……

while Pacific leaders have praised New Zealand’s announcement that it wants to go carbon neutral by 2050, many are frustrated that Australia has failed to curb its emissions.

One Pacific official told the ABC the meeting’s call for radical action on climate change “really was aimed at the whole globe” but “for those in the room [it] was a message for one country”.

“Of course no-one said Australia. No-one needed to say Australia,” the official said. “What other country in the room could we be referring to?”

The outspoken Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele, went much further, wading straight into Australia’s election campaign during the post-summit press conference…….

decision makers in Canberra also know that the Pacific is increasingly impatient about Australia’s long and painful debate on climate policy.

The argument will flare up again in only months when regional leaders gather for the Pacific Islands Forum on tiny Tuvalu, which has long been a vocal champion for drastic climate action.

And this time, Australia will not be sitting on the sidelines. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-16/guterres-antonio-un-pacific-meeting-climate-change/11115816

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May 16, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA, politics international

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