NOOSA – Scott Morrison’s announcement in Glasgow that “technology will have the answers” to saving the world from climate change has generated widespread disapproval from world leaders.
And his offer to increase Australia's climate funding by $100 million (K260 million) a year for the next five years to cover all Pacific Island and South-East Asian countries also left his audience cold.
Pacific leaders had told him they would rather he made sharper cuts to Australia's emissions.
Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama said he told Morrison to slash Australia's emissions by 2030.
Australia has adopted a net zero emissions target by 2050 but not established short-term targets.
"I've urged Scott Morrison to show us a concrete plan to halve emissions by 2030," Bainimarama said.
“I've given him a copy of Fiji's Climate Change Act as a guide –– it is our uniquely Fijian way of following the science to keep faith with future generations.”
The Australian federal opposition accused Morrison of embarrassing Australia on the world stage.
"It's just a continuation of the steaming pile of nothingness that we had in Australia before he left," said shadow energy minister Chris Bowen.
"It is a speech devoid of substance, it was more slogans, more spin.
"Scott Morrison wants a pat on the back for this announcement — he won't be getting one from us, and I doubt it he'll be getting one from Pacific nations."
Morrison not listening to Pacific
“In every discussion I've ever had with Pacific Island leaders, that is something they've always encouraged us to do," he said.
But he asserted that Australia’s net zero commitment was enough to meet the expectations and “passion” of the Kainaki Declaration on climate change, agreed by Pacific Islands Forum leaders in 2019.
Bainimarama argued the future of some Pacific Island nations was at stake. "We have not travelled to the other end of the world to watch our future to be sacrificed at the altar of appeasement of the world's worst emitters," he said.
"The existence of our low-lying neighbours is not on the negotiating table.
“Humanity does not lack the resources, technology, projects, innovative potential to achieve it — all that is missing is the courage to act,” Bainimarama said.
The future has arrived, says Juffa
“Sir David is so sharp and ever more passionate about our natural environment,” Juffa said.
“He spoke of the need for all to work together to avert the greatest threat to our species to date, global warming and climate change.
“Today, the whole world is experiencing significant natural disasters in frequency and intensity like never before in history.
“The rich nations, who have liquidated their natural environment to become exceptionally developed cash rich modernised societies at the expense of the developing nations, have been irresponsible to the future.
“That future has arrived and they now have to be responsible. There is really no choice if we are to survive as a species.”
‘Leaders don’t deserve our tears’
Before leaving for Glasgow, PNG’s climate minister Wera Mori, also a delegate, said everyone in PNG should all be concerned about the recent findings of the new International Panel of Climate Change.
“This report is sounding the alarm and concludes that if we fail to act urgently, there will be catastrophic global consequences. And we’re already nearing abrupt climate tipping points.”
Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean, 23, addressing world leaders at the summit opening said, “We're not drowning, we're fighting.”
In a first-person account, she described what it felt like to speak up for Pacific islanders whose homes and way of life are under threat from rising sea levels.
“The words I shared didn't just belong to me - they belong to my community, they belong to every single Pacific island,” Brianna said.
“I think that was really important for me to tell the world leaders that they don't need my tears and my pain - and quite frankly, they don't deserve it.”
Only four Pacific leaders at summit
Just four Pacific leaders - from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and Palau – were able to attend the forum in person.
COP26 is billed as the “last best shot” for the world to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Prasad Satyendra Prasad, Fiji's ambassador to the United Nations.
Prasad said this is crucial for Pacific nations battling more powerful tropical storms and rising sea levels.
He said Pacific negotiators will need to “work really hard” on crucial agenda items like climate finance,
Fiji is pushing rich governments to agree to deliver $750 billion (K2.6 trillion) a year to support climate action in poorer countries from 2025 - up from an annual pledge of $100 billion (K350 billion) which has so far not been delivered.
“It's sad that the Pacific is the least well-represented at this COP,” Prasad said.
“We know that not having a presence in the way that we would have in a normal year is a big disadvantage to the smallest countries.”
PNG islands are disappearing
"So what we want to see is actual ambition, finance and transparency.”
Conrad said the funding is urgent for PNG, which is already suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis.
“We need money to relocate people and deal with adapting to climate change that has to do also with food security,” he told Sky News.
Conrad was furious that the $100 billion target to support action in poorer countries had not been achieved, and warned world leaders that more funding is needed if PNG is to successfully evade a crisis.
“We are a bit upset that all the countries in the world cannot raise $100 billion,” he said.
“That was a goal set by [former UK prime minister] Gordon Brown over 11 years ago and we still haven't met it today.”
Sources: Daily Express, Frank Bainimarama (Twitter), PNG Post-Courier, BBC News, ABC News, Loop PNG, Manus Issues (Facebook)