Jacinda Ardern earns praise over climate change from Pacific leaders

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Thursday, 15 August 2019, 7:48PM
PM Jacinda Ardern and Fijian PM Frank Bainimarara make their way to PIF leaders’ meeting. (Photo / Jason Walls)

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama strikes a distinctively different tone when speaking about New Zealand's climate change efforts, compared to that of Australia's.

Heading into the main leaders' meeting at the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) today, Bainimarama was highly complimentary of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand's climate change efforts.

Asked what more New Zealand could do for Fiji, and the wider Pacific, when it came to climate change, Bainimarama said: "she has already done enough for us, just [by] speaking out".

It comes after Ardern confirmed that half of the $300 million the Government's allocated to fighting climate change has been earmarked for Pacific Island projects.

$150 million will bolster New Zealand's support for projects such as water tank infrastructure, risk planning and eradicating pests that threaten food security.

Ardern says Pacific people are clear they want to stay where they are and defend themselves against climate change.

Bainimarama's about New Zealand's efforts are in stark contrast to those he made about Australia recently.

Speaking before the official opening of PIF this week, Bainimarama challenged Australia to move away from coal-powered energy.

He appealed directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and said his Government needed to "more fully appreciate the existential threat" that is facing the Pacific.

"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," he told a press conference.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier met Australian counterpart Scott Morrison during the forum. Photo / Jason Walls

"That transition should be just for your own people and just for us here in the Pacific, where we face an existential threat that you don't face and challenges we expect your governments and people to more fully appreciate."

His comments put the spotlight of the conference well and truly on Australia and whether it is doing enough when it comes to climate change.

Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said that no matter how much money Australia's Government put on the table – "it doesn't give you the excuse to not to do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coal mines".

Many Pacific leaders have called on Australia to do more for climate change and it is likely Australia's contribution will be the centrepiece of the leaders' talk today.

Morrison has yet to speak to media at the forum, but he has had a number of bilateral meetings including one with Ardern.

Ardern has been unwilling to comment on the Pacific leaders' calls for Australia to end its use of coal.

"Issues around Australia's domestic policy are issues for Australia."

Ardern said she had not applied any pressure to Morrison around the issue of coal during their bilateral meeting.

Ardern this morning said that half of the already allocated $300 million to fight the effects of climate change will be specifically allocated to the Pacific.

Some $5.6m of that will be going directly to Tuvalu.

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