Scott Morrison is facing criticism from Pacific leaders over Australia’s approach to climate change. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)
Pacific island nations need to remember they are receiving coal-powered Chinese loans, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister has warned as he launched a defence of Australia.
- Pacific nations are pressuring Australia to do more to phase out coal-fired power generation
- NZ’s Deputy Prime Minister reminded Pacific nations they were receiving Chinese loans “on the backs of coal-fired everything”
- Pacific leaders are meeting in Tuvalu where they are seeking a consensus on climate change
Winston Peters called on Pacific nations to act with consistency and integrity in their approach to climate change amid their criticisms of Australia’s policies.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing growing pressure from Pacific leaders at a forum in Tuvalu who want Australia to make a greater commitment to phasing out coal-fired power generation.
But Mr Peters said the nations pushing for Australia to change had to account for the money they received from China.
“There are many Pacific countries that are seeking loans, cheap loans from China,” he said.
“Now those loans are on the backs of coal-fired everything in mainland China as we well know.
“There’s a big picture we have to contemplate here and we’ve got to ensure … that we act with consistency and integrity.”
Mr Peters was keen to offer New Zealand’s support for Australia after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backed calls by the leaders of Tuvalu and Fiji that every country must commit to greater cuts in carbon emissions.
She would not give a direct answer when pressed on whether Australia’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions by 26 to 28 per cent was adequate, as other Pacific leaders have said.
“Australia has to answer to the Pacific [and] that’s a matter for them,” Ms Ardern told reporters in Tuvalu.
New Zealand’s leaders Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern have faced repeated questions about Australian climate change policies. (AP: Nick Perry)
Her comments prompted reporting New Zealand was critical of Australia’s approach to emissions.
“That is not the real picture at all,” Mr Peters told the ABC.
“The real picture is that Pacific island countries are desperately concerned about climate change, they are concerned about their long-term longevity, particularly as a surviving series of nations particularly when you have the low-lying islands.
“They’re concerned as to what can be done by way of mitigation and steps to remediate the circumstances that they presently suffer under.”
The leaders at the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meeting in Funafuti are expected to come to a consensus on a statement on climate change, which is being negotiated over the course of the week.
Australia is pushing back against plans to include in the statement a timeframe for phasing out the use of coal-fired power generation and committing more funding to the UN-backed Green Climate Fund that supports developing countries.