Pacific elders urge Fiji PM to demand Australia for greater climate commitments


Former Pacific Island nations leaders said Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to demand from Australia, in his capacity as the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, to commit to greater climate action.

The Pacific Elders Voice expressed concerns over the lack of commitment from Australia from the recent Climate Change summit to support major initiatives such as reducing methane emissions, phase-out of coal, and eliminating subsidies on fossil fuel industries.

The Pacific Elders Voice includes Hilde Heine — former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Remengesau Jr, former President of Palau, Anote Tong, former President of the Republic of Kiribati, Enele Sopoaga, former Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Dame Meg Taylor, former secretary-general of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and Robert Underwood, former Member of United States Congress and president of the University of Guam.

“We are disappointed that there seems no new additional support by Australia for Loss & Damage, an issue very dear to the PICs, or for adaptation which is the number one priority for vulnerable PSIDS. Also, Australia’s lack of support to the GCF, which it had earlier co-chaired, sends a negative signal about its attitude towards climate finance, especially for the island nations,” in a letter to Bainimarama.

The Pacific Elders said while Australia claimed to be part of the “Pacific family” it failed to make strong commitments to address the climate crisis.

“We are of the view that the PIFS need to write formally to Australia and make our position clear on our expectations of Australia, as part of PIF, to show greater commitment, empathy and support for this important development issue for all the small islands of the Pacific,” the elders said.

The leaders said climate change continues to be an existential threat to the Pacific nations citing several platforms that could be used to advance the fight.

“This could be done using a variety of platforms, such as the PSIDS grouping, or the Small Island State (SIS) subgroup within the PIF, which could be strengthened to ensure that they are able to undertake this important role in climate change. There is always the option to form a new grouping that only includes Pacific Island countries in the event the existing arrangements are deemed inadequate,” the leaders said.