Fiji Opposition Member of Parliament, Faiyaz Koya has criticised Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka for comments he made during his visit to Australia, suggesting a ‘realistic approach towards coal mining and gas production.

This Koya says raises serious questions and the Prime Minister’s comments demonstrate a concerning lack of urgency and empathy for the escalating climate emergency in the Pacific.

Koya said at a time when the Sixth Assessment Report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unequivocally calls for an end to all new coal, oil and gas projects globally, Rabuka’s stance appears tone-deaf to the dire reality faced by the Pacific nations.

He said fossil fuels are undeniably the primary drivers of climate change, and the Pacific region is, regrettably, on the front lines of the climate crisis, experiencing its devastating impacts first-hand.

“It is crucial to underline that the Prime Minister does not speak for the entire Pacific or for the nation of Fiji. Our neighbouring low-lying atoll counties are already enduring immeasurable suffering due to the consequences of the climate crisis.”

“They are engaged in a battle for their survival, their dignity, their homes, and for the future generations of our region. It is therefore imperative that we express our unwavering solidarity with them,” Koya said.

He also said that while the Pacific region is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, some leaders are prioritising short-term economic gains over the long-term wellbeing of their people.

Koya said the only realistic scenario for the Pacific and indeed for the whole planet is the complete phasing out of fossil fuels by 2050 if not earlier.

He said the Prime Minister cannot be allowed to betray and sell out the very future of Pacific Islanders on his very first visit to Australia.

“I want to emphasise the importance of acknowledging the leadership and awareness that Fiji under the former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, demonstrated.”

“We led the charge in highlighting the pressing need to address the climate crisis. We cannot let these efforts be undermined or forgotten.”

Koya said this is not the first time the Prime Minister has expressed his complete disregard for a united Pacific position – The other was Rabuka’s stance on the release of Japan’s nuclear waste disposal into the Pacific Ocean.

“The Pacific must stand as one, speaking with a unified voice on critical issues that affect us all. It is disappointing to witness the divergence from this principle,” he added.