Climate crisis, not China, is biggest threat to Pacific

Climate crisis threat to Pacific

Former leaders of Pacific nations have warned that the climate crisis is the biggest threat to the region, not rising military tensions.

In a statement on Friday, the Pacific Elders Voice group, which includes former leaders of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati and Tuvalu, said that “the primary security threat to the Pacific is climate change,” rather than geo-strategic tensions.

The former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says Pacific leaders are being ignored due to concerns over China’s influence in the region.

Tong, a member of the Elders Voice, said the issue of climate security is receiving less attention because major powers are interested in “their own rivalries”.

He said the recent China-Solomon Islands security pact has prompted uproar from America, Australia and New Zealand. However, Tong said Pacific leaders have been “screaming that climate change” is the region’s highest priority.

“I don’t think we have been heard. I suspect that there are countries who do not believe that climate change is as relevant to them as their own rivalries in terms of the powers that they deal with.

“I think it is important to make that point that here we are, we are part of the discussions and that whatever we do with other partners is regarded as impinging on the wider security issues of the region,” he said.

The former Pacific leaders group voiced concerns that major powers including the US, Australia and Japan were developing policies for the region without consulting Pacific leaders. It said: “The security and future of the Pacific must be determined primarily by Pacific Island countries and not by external powers competing over strategic interests within our region.”

Tong said the Pacific needs to be included in the decision-making processes even if they don’t have any significant input.

“And I think it’s a bit interesting that all of the security discussions are going on around us and not with us. That is the question we are raising, should we not be part of the discussions in many ways,” he said.



Island Times

The Korea Herald



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