Pacific Island climate groups demand world leaders halt support for fossil fuel


Pacific Island climate action groups have demanded countries including Australia end support for the fossil fuel industry during the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow.

The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), which includes environmental activist group Greenpeace, issued a list of demands to world leaders on Friday, saying they must provide “a safe and habitable future for the Pacific Islands”.

It called on wealthy countries to pump billions of dollars a year into developing nations to help them tackle the effects of climate change and cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

PICAN demanded wealthy nations provide developing states U$S100 billion annually until 2025 and increase that sum to US $750 billion a year beyond 2025 so they can invest in technologies to help live with a changing climate.

“We do need finance and we’re talking about billions … we need the technology,” former Tuvalu prime minister Bikenibeu Paeniu said.

Former Kiribati president Anote Tong told the virtual gathering of Pacific climate-action organisations the COP26 meeting would be the last chance to save Pacific Island nations from the worst effects of climate change.

“I think what I’ve always acknowledged — and I think we must also acknowledge — is for most of us in the Pacific, our days are already numbered because whatever happens, even if we cut emissions to zero tomorrow … our future cannot be assured,” he said.

Pacific Island nations have become increasingly anxious about inaction on climate change and its looming consequences for their countries if the world does not reduce emissions.

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in August found the world had warmed by 1.1C on pre-industrial levels.

It found that on the current trajectory, the Earth was likely to hit 1.5C warming about 2030.

Documents leaked to Greenpeace and obtained by the ABC, showed Australia sought to change a major international draft report on climate change to promote a future for coal-fired power.

British High Commissioner George Edgar, who also spoke at the meeting, called on countries that had not submitted ambitious climate targets to step up.

“A growing number of countries have committed to ending overseas investment in coal, but we need to see an end to domestic investment as well and plans for the rapid phase out of existing coal-fired plants,” he said.

Former secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Meg Taylor, said she understood reservations about the shift away from fossil fuels but insisted the change would benefit communities in the long term.

“I understand the sentiments about the transition of economies from fossil fuel to carbon neutral. My own country will face that challenge itself,” she said.

“In the Paris Agreement, it’s very clear that in terms of the transition … economic development is very much part of the climate transition and countries are going to have to make those tough decisions themselves,” she said