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Australia Serious About Tackling Climate Change: Prime Minister Morrison

Pacific nations have debts of about $4 billion. Creditors include the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, while $1 billion is owed to China.

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Australia, Climate
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is presented with a gift as he arrives in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has wrapped up a three-day trip to the South Pacific to reassure vulnerable island nations that Canberra is serious about tackling climate change.

Morrison told Pacific Island leaders that Australia would meet its international obligations to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate change agreement.

Many low-lying communities fear that rising sea levels will force them from their homes. In Samoa, coastal villages are already making plans to relocate to higher ground in the nation’s volcanic interior.

Morrison’s three-day trip to Vanuatu and Fiji has been described by foreign policy experts as mostly a success.

great barrier reef, Climate
A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia. VOA

Coal a sticking point

But climate change remains a source of friction between Australia and its smaller neighbors. Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama criticized Canberra for not doing more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the economy’s reliance on coal. Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of carbon pollution.

Australia is also eager to counter China’s growing strategic influence in the South Pacific, although Morrison insists all countries should work together.

“We are here because we are for the independent sovereignty and prosperity of Vanuatu because they are our Pacific neighbors and family. That is why we are here,” he said. “Our objectives and our motives here, I think, are very transparent to our family and friends here in the Pacific, particularly here in Vanuatu. This question is put to me all the time. I mean, we do not have to choose. We just have to work cooperatively together.”

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change, economic
Tire tracks left by a truck can be seen in a drought-stricken paddock on Kahmoo Station property, located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia has also mended a previously fraught relationship with Fiji. Prime Minister Bainimarama is a former commander of the Fijian military who deposed an elected government in 2006. Democracy was restored to Fiji, an archipelago of about 900,000 people, in 2014.

Also Read: Australia’s Maribyrnong Detention Center Gets Closed

Countering China

Pacific nations have debts of about $4 billion. Creditors include the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, while $1 billion is owed to China.

Experts say that some South Pacific countries have preferred to take out loans from China rather than accept grants from Australia because the process was simpler and less bureaucratic. (VOA)

Next Story

Auckland City Recognizes Urgency for Action on Climate Change by Declaring Emergency

"Auckland's Climate Action Framework and the plan we develop from that is a critical part of meeting our responsibilities," Mayor Goff said

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climate emergency
Developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem. Pixabay

Auckland city council voted to recognize the urgency for action on climate change by declaring a climate emergency on Wednesday. “By unanimously voting to declare a climate emergency we are signaling the council’s intention to put climate change at the front and centre of our decision making,” says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, reported Xinhua news agency.

Members of Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee voted to join a growing community of cities around the world who have formally and publicly recognized the urgency for action on climate change by declaring a climate emergency.

Climate emergency
This combination of Dec. 13 and 17, 2018 photos shows downtown Salt Lake City during clear and an inversion day. VOA

“Our declaration further elevates the importance of an immediate national and global response to address our changing climate,” said Auckland City Councilor Penny Hulse, chair of the Environment and Community Committee.

ALSO READ: UN: 5.4 Million Face Food Shortage in Somalia Due to Climate-Related Droughts

Recent research commissioned by the Auckland city council showed that Auckland’s annual temperature is rising, rainfall patterns are changing, and coastlines are being increasingly impacted by ongoing sea level rise.

Auckland’s ambitious targets and leadership on tackling climate change have earned C40 Innovator City status from the global C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the council is a signatory of the New Zealand Climate Leaders Coalition. “Auckland’s Climate Action Framework and the plan we develop from that is a critical part of meeting our responsibilities,” Mayor Goff said. (IANS)