NZ puts heat on Oz in Pacific climate row

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 15 Aug 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday backed Pacific leaders' calls for urgent action on climate change, ramping up pressure on Australia to overhaul its stance on global warming.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived at a meeting of Pacific island leaders in Tuvalu with Canberra's regional leadership in question amid intense scrutiny of his government's climate change policies.

Wealthy Australia has long dominated the Pacific Islands Forum, an 18-member grouping consisting mainly of small atoll nations dotted around the vast Pacific ocean.

But its role is in doubt after leaders of the low-lying nations questioned in recent days whether Australia's climate-skeptic leader is committed to curbing a problem they see as a fundamental threat to their survival.

Ardern joined in on further isolating coal-producing Australia.

"New Zealand will do its bit and we have an expectation that everyone else will as well... Australia has to answer to the Pacific, that's a matter for them," she said.

Greenpeace campaigner Joseph Moeono-Kolio said Morrison's government appeared intent on watering down the summit's communique, due to be issued today, which is set to demand urgent action on climate change.

"Australia is poised to become the pariah of the Pacific," he said.

"Scott Morrison has done the exact opposite of what the leaders of the Pacific have asked Australia to do and placed Pacific communities on the front lines of the climate crisis in an even more precarious position.

"Morrison's callous indifference to the plight of Pacific islanders suggests he has no problem sacrificing entire nations for the short-term profits of his backers in the coal industry."

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