Pacific presidents speak out against Australia’s stand on climate change

Pacific leaders from vulnerable low-lying countries have criticised Australia’s regressive moves on climate change.

During the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States, where climate and energy issues were expected to be high on the agenda, and on the heels of an effort by Australia to build an international coalition against putting a price on carbon, the President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, said climate change is an issue of survival for Pacific Island states, not just economics. “We’re not talking about the growth GDP, we’re not talking about what it means in terms of profit and losses of the large corporations, we’re talking about our survival,” he told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.

Mr Tong added that the new approach to climate change throws previous regional agreements to which Australia was a signatory into doubt.

“What will happen in terms of greenhouse gas emissions levels agreed to internationally will not affect us, because our future is already here… we will be underwater,” he said.

The President of Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, was equally critical of Mr Abbott’s approach on climate. “I’m very concerned that the prime minister is setting the wrong tone in what needs to be a very determined effort to tackle climate change,” Mr Loeak said. “Prime Minister Abbott’s comments on Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are a further indication that Australia is isolating itself on this issue.”

“We believe that there are still opportunities to curb this problem and we look forward to working with the world community to talk about it, and to do anything we can to help them to do something about climate change.”

Link to interview: