Australia Offers USD 340 Million in Climate Funding to Pacific Islands

Cheryl Sanders
August 16, 2019

The announcement was made before the minister schedule travel to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu, where island nations threatened by rising seas have vowed to put global warming at the top of the agenda.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says his views until now on the place of Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum are well known but they are in a new era in which both countries are attempting to re-engage in a more respectful and inclusive way and he warmly welcomes that.

"This highlights our commitment to not just meeting our emissions reduction obligations at home but supporting our neighbours and friends", he said.

Pacific nations have been increasingly vocal in the lead-up to the meeting in their demands for Australia to take stronger action on climate change.

Pacific nations leaders were left unimpressed by the proposal.

"As well as getting our own house in order, we have a responsibility to support the resilience, resolve and leadership of those at the front lines of climate destruction - starting with a US$30 million contribution to the Green Climate Fund in the October replenishment round", Le Mesurier said.

To counter China's economic aid to the Pacific, Australia and its Western allies have increased their support to the region.

Labor's Pat Conroy believes stronger climate change policies are key to lasting relationships.

"If Australia is to remain a trusted partner to the members of the Pacific family, and with that retain the ability to help shape the region's future, it must immediately step up its response to the number one priority of its neighbours -- climate change", Bradshaw said.

As well as the shifting geopolitics of the region, the power dynamics within the PIF are changing, too.

"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", Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said on Monday ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Papua New Guinea's new Prime Minister James Marape will be looking to establish relationships, along with the new Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogovare.

As part of the UK's recently launched Pacific Uplift Strategy, I am keen to hear direct from Pacific Island leaders about the challenges facing Pacific Island Countries and seek opportunities to work together at the Pacific Island Forum and beyond, to deliver on our shared objectives.

The draft statement concludes on a call to all countries, "with no caveats", to take decisive and transformative action - a likely dig at Australia for planning to use Kyoto-era carbon credits to meet its Paris Agreement pledges.

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