Australian coal use an 'existential threat' to islands: Fiji

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the media at Parliament House in Canberra 13 February 2019

"We're here to work with our Pacific partners to confront the potential challenges they face in the years ahead", Morrison said in a statement before a trip to the region.

Australia has announced 500 million Australian dollars $338m in funding for the Pacific region to tackle climate change, including disaster resilience and renewable energy investment. The funding package will be re-directed from existing programs and is in no way considered additional support for the region.

He said in a statement that the full details of the package would be revealed when he attends a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu this week.

"As a Government with the highest number of Ministers of Pacific heritage, we share a collective ambition to stand with Pacific Island countries to amplify their voices on climate change so the world can take their fight seriously", Aupito William Sio said.

Bainimarama said that while it was not for Fiji "to be prescriptive" over national affairs, he urged Canberra to appreciate "the existential threat" facing Pacific nations.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says his views until now on the place of Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum are well known but they are in a new era in which both countries are attempting to re-engage in a more respectful and inclusive way and he warmly welcomes that. "I certainly look forward to seeing for myself, the progress Australia has made in managing the challenges of transforming its energy sector and integrating renewable energy when I make my first official visit there next month".

While prominent as the most senior member of the Australian delegation so far, Mr Hawke has appeared to be on the periphery of some informal discussions between prime ministers and presidents.

Beginning in Fiji today (12 August), Minister Wheeler will be shown the impacts of climate change in the region and the visit some of the innovative projects that the United Kingdom and Fiji are pioneering to respond to these challenges.

It is part of the Pacific "step up" strategy that aims to reassert Australia's leadership role in the region, at a time when China's presence is growing.

The smaller Pacific states have been negotiating their own statement on climate change, with the hope of manoeuvring Australia into supporting a strong PIF statement to take to NY.

China, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the United Kingdom have all been focusing more attention on the Pacific because of the region's geo-strategic importance.

Other countries from further overseas are seeking closer relations with the Pacific, with both Norway and Chile applying to become dialogue partners.



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