Pacific Leaders not too keen on Australias $500 million climate hush money

Image result for scott morrison pacificPacific Leaders have taken an uncharacteristic approach to the $500 million climate financing offer from Australia this week in Tuvalu. In fact the announcement of the climate funds which one can’t help but view as a kind of climate hush money for island Leaders have been met with some strong words at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting this week. [Full Story Below]


By Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson

APIA: Pacific Leaders have taken an uncharacteristic approach to the $500 million climate financing offer from Australia this week in Tuvalu. In fact the announcement of the climate funds which one can’t help but view as a kind of climate hush money for island Leaders have been met with some strong words at the Forum. 

The timing of the funds and the way it was announced definitely has the undertones of “hush” to it. It is almost an attempt to silence Leaders of island nations who have already lost citizens to extreme weather events in the past ten years. As one of the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the world, Australia will have to do more than throw money at the problem.

Australia produces 1.3% of the world’s greenhouse gases the Pacific islands all together produces 0.03%. One doesn’t need to expound on the meaning of those numbers.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Hon. Enele Sopoaga has pointed out that the funds should not negate Australias responsibility to act on lowering their emissions at home.

“No matter how much money you put on the table, it doesn’t give you the excuse to not to do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coalmines,” he said. “That is the thing that we want to see.”

Australias Prime Minister Scott Morrison continued to be called on by Leaders and advocates in Tuvalu this week for the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting to do more on climate change.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said: “I appeal to Australia to do everything possible to achieve a rapid transition from coal to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change”.

In an effort  dispense criticisms of his policies at home – Morrison said this week: “Australia’s going to meet its 2030 Paris commitments. Australia’s going to smash its 2020 commitments when it comes to meeting our emissions reduction targets. So Australia meets its commitments, and we will always meet our commitments. And that is a point that I’ll be making again when I meet with Pacific leaders.”

According to The Conversation – Morrison confirmed before the election that Australia would use credits from overachieving on its Kyoto 2020 targets to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target.

The Australian Institute says that Australia intends to use 367 Mt of carbon credits to avoid the majority of emission reductions pledged under its Paris Agreement target, meanwhile the entire annual emissions from the Pacific Island Forum members, excluding Australia, is only about 45Mt.

By using this loophole, the federal government in Australia is giving the green light to pollution equivalent to:
• Annual emissions of 77,919,000 cars on the road
• Emissions from 95 coal-fired power plants for a whole year

“If Australia is to be a climate leader at the Pacific Island Forum, the federal government needs to show it with meaningful action – and that begins with ruling out the use of Kyoto credits to meet climate change obligations,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“The Government’s policy to use Kyoto credits is an insult to Pacific leaders. You can’t “step up” in the Pacific while stepping back on climate action,” he said.

“Scott Morrison has a choice – Australia can be a leader in the region and a partner in combatting the impact of climate change, or we can continue to completely undermine any efforts by our Pacific partners by using these dodgy credits.”

In previous meetings – announcements like the $500 million by Australia would have been met with widespread applause from Pacific leaders and communities – however, Pacific islanders have more access to information and knowledge of Australias stance on climate in the global sphere and politics at the national level.

Simply put, we as a people have grown up, and we know better – there were certainly the sentiments shared by Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said earlier this year in Australia when she pointed out Samoa along with other Pacific islands have “matured.”

With China, the United Kingdom and the European Union as active partners – Australia no longer has the monopoly as the largest development partner country to the Pacific islands – something lauded over Forum Leaders for many years.

This time islands are making choices that suit them – and mostly – not entirely at the whims of development partner countries like Australia.

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