EMAIL | The Australia Institute
CANBERRA - Last week the Pacific Island Forum made clear that new coal mines were a 'red line' issue.
Its final communique made clear to the world what the Pacific nations require of its neighbours, including Australia: the survival of Pacific Island nations requires no new coal mines.
While Pacific Island leaders deserve congratulation for their vocal call for no new coal mines, it is a disappointment that Australia has bullied any language of a ban or limitation of new coal out of this week's 50th Pacific Islands Forum communique.
Australians cannot underestimate the importance of taking climate action, particularly in the Pacific. As the UN Secretary-General has said, “if you can save Tuvalu, you can save the world”.
In a 'must listen' interview on the ABC’s RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas, Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga made the plea clear:
“We are already crossing the red lines to keep, to save, the small island countries and to keep them afloat above water,” he said.
“We need to implement and recognise our obligations under the convention to avoid dangerous levels of emissions and climate change effect on people and current and future generations.
“So if it is a red line for Australia - coal mining - not to touch that. I’m saying we are already crossing the red lines for the lives of the people of Tuvalu and many others.”
The Australian government’s fixation on coal puts Australia in direct conflict with Pacific leaders fighting for the future of their nations.
Furthermore, it puts Australia in a tricky position heading into the UN Climate Summit in September -- ignoring such a simple and moral request from its Pacific Island neighbours puts global efforts to combat climate change at risk.
Just this week, the Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program released new research which shows very clearly why the Pacific are so frustrated with Australia's stance on climate action.
The controversial Kyoto credit emissions loophole Australia is aiming to use to claim it has met its Paris Agreement Emissions Target is equal to around eight times the annual fossil fuel emissions of all Pacific Island nations including New Zealand, combined.