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Cyclone Debbie in Australia continues to cause Chaos with extreme Weather Conditions

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Sydney, March 30, 2017: The aftermath of tropical Cyclone Debbie in Australia on Thursday has continued to cause chaos, with extreme weather conditions continuing throughout much of the state of Queensland.

Schools in the southeast area of the state have been closed, and employers have been told to send their workers home, as the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting a month’s worth of rain to fall in the course of the day, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The two biggest cities in Queensland, the capital Brisbane, and tourist hot-spot the Gold Coast are bracing for huge downpours, with winds clocking between 90 to 125 km per hour set to hit by Thursday afternoon, with a heavy deluge of rain already falling in both areas.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has called for residents to put safety first, and to immediately retrieve their children from schools in the affected regions.

“We don’t want parents and children to be on the road in 90 km/h weather or heavy rainfall,” Trad said.

With safety as a primary focus, attention is also being directed to the massive recovery operation that is underway, with around 1,200 Australian Defence Force personnel being deployed as part of “Queensland Assist 17,” the recovery operation in conjunction with state emergency services crews.

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One of the main priorities for the rescue and recovery operation is the tourism hub of the Whitsunday Islands, the popular island group which includes both Hayman and Daydream Island.

Tourists have been stranded since the catastrophic weather event, with flights to get visitors and staff out of the devastated areas set to begin later this afternoon, weather permitting, as all maritime methods of transportation have been shut down due to the extreme weather conditions.

But Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on the public to not cancel planned trips to the resorts that have been hit, as the potential toll to tourism would see the cost of damages compounded upon if they were to lose even further revenue. (IANS)

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Australia Announces Aus$500 Million ($340 Million) Climate Change Package for Pacific Island Countries

The climate-sceptic leader made the announcement before traveling to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu

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Australia, Pacific Island, Countries
Traditionally-dressed representatives from South Pacific nations push their canoes into the water as they prepare to participate in a protest aimed at ships leaving the Newcastle coal port, located north of Sydney, Australia, Oct. 17, 2014. VOA

Australia on Tuesday announced a Aus$500 million ($340 million) climate change package for Pacific island countries, which have been increasingly vocal in demanding their powerful neighbor curb its carbon emissions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding, drawn from Australia’s existing international aid budget, would help Pacific island nations invest in renewable energy and climate change resilience.

The climate-sceptic leader made the announcement before traveling to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu, where island nations threatened by rising seas have vowed to put global warming at the top of the agenda.

Smaller members of the 18-nation grouping have been sharply critical of Australia’s climate policies ahead of this year’s summit amid a diplomatic push from Canberra to counter China’s growing power in the region.

Australia, Pacific Island, Countries
Australia on Tuesday announced a Aus$500 million ($340 million) climate change package for Pacific island countries, which have been increasingly vocal in demanding. Pixabay

High-level representatives from the likes of Tuvalu, Palau and Vanuatu have criticized Australia for not doing enough, with Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama saying Canberra’s reliance on coal poses an “existential threat” to low-lying islands.

There has also been disquiet in the Pacific that Australia recently approved the giant Adani coal mine in Queensland state.

Morrison has staunchly defended Australia’s climate record, insisting the country will meet its 2030 emissions reduction target set under the Paris Agreement.

“The $500 million we’re investing for the Pacific’s renewable energy and its climate change and disaster resilience builds on the $300 million for 2016-2020,” he said in a statement.

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“This highlights our commitment to not just meeting our emissions reduction obligations at home but supporting our neighbors and friends.”

Greenpeace said the package was nothing more than a diversion of funds from Australia’s Pacific aid program and “a slap in the face to regional leaders”.

“This $Aus500 million accounting trick will do nothing to address the cause of the climate crisis that threatens the viability of the entire Pacific,” Greenpeace’s Pacific head Joseph Moeono-Kolio said in a statement.

Australia, Pacific Island, Countries
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding, drawn from Australia’s existing international aid budget, would help Pacific island nations invest in renewable energy. Pixabay

The tussle over climate action comes as Australia attempts to reassert its influence in the Pacific through its “step-up” strategy, which some regional leaders have warned is likely to fail without meaningful climate action.

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The PIF summit officially opens late Tuesday and continues until Thursday. (VOA)