Australia and NZ are Pacific Islands’ bad neighbours

The prime minister of Fiji  Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama says New Zealand and Australia are bad neighbours.

He says they are putting their own economic interests ahead of the need to protect Pacific Island nations from the effect of climate change.

“I won’t be going to Paris wearing the usual friendly, compliant Pacific smile,” warned Bainimarama. “In fact, I won’t be going to Paris in a Pacific frame of mind at all. I fear that our interests are about to be sacrificed.”

He said the Pacific Island nations are “Doomed to suffer the most negative impact of the rising temperatures caused by the carbon emissions that have accompanied the industrial age without having contributed to those emissions in any meaningful way at all.

“In fact, we in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age.”

“The industrialised nations (are) putting the welfare of the entire planet at risk so that their economic growth is assured and their citizens can continue to enjoy lives of comparative ease.”

“All at the expense of those of us in low-lying areas of the Pacific and the rest of the world.”

New Zealand prime minister John Key doesn’t think other Pacific leaders share  Bainimarama’s views towards New Zealand and Australia.

He said leaders who attended the Pacific Forum meeting, “speak very fondly of New Zealand, they have a strong relationship with us and they want to engage even more with us in the future.”

Bainimarama did not attend the Pacific Forum meeting.

He says the Australian government, in particular, seems intent on putting its own immediate economic interests first.

“The ‘lucky country’ determined to stay lucky, at least for the short term, at the expense of its unlucky island neighbours.

Bainimarama said the prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull should halt new coalmines in Australia and embrace an economy based on clean energy. Such a ban has been proposed by a coalition of Pacific nations in the recent Suva declaration.

However, Turnbull, who lost the leadership of the Liberal party in 2009 over his support for an emissions trading scheme to combat climate change, dismissed the idea of a ban.

“I don’t agree with the idea of a moratorium on exporting coal,” he said. “With great respect to the people who advocated it, it would make not the blindest bit of difference to global emissions.

“If Australia stopped exporting coal, the countries to which we export it would buy it from somewhere else.”

Australia has the highest per-capita carbon emissions of any industrialised country.

It is also a leading exporter of coal and recently approved Adani’s $16.5bn Carmichael mine in Queensland, which will extract up to 60m tonnes of coal a year for export to India.

The annual emissions from this coal will be higher than the entire carbon output of New Zealand.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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