AUSTRALIAN prime minister Tony Abbott has rebuffed calls from Pacific Island leaders for Australia to adopt a tougher stance on climate change and ban new coal mines to help avoid catastrophic changes in sea levels.
Leaders of some of the tiny Pacific nations speaking before the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby, which started on Thursday, said limiting the effects of climate changes was vital to their survival.
"I think they [Australia] need to come to the party. If they are really are our friends then they should be looking out for our future as well," Kiribati's President Anote Tong told the ABC.
"What we are talking about is survival, it's not about economic development," he said.
Pacific Island leaders are keen for Mr Abbott to ban new coal mines, with Mr Tong warning Australia could be expelled from the forum if it did not take a tougher stand.
Kiribati has a population of 110,000 living on 33 low-lying islands and is vulnerable to rising sea levels.
The Alliance of Small Ocean States, which includes Tuvalu and Palau, also called for a tougher stance from Australia, while remaining realistic about its chances of getting Australia to ban new coal mines.
But Mr Abbott said before the forum that Australia supported "internationally agreed targets".
"We will more than achieve a 13% reduction on 2005 levels by 2020 and we have pledged a 26-28% cut by 2030," he said.