Mon. Oct 14th, 2019

Australia’s lax climate policy poses challenge on small island nations’ pleas for global action

Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. told the media that Palau shares the sentiment of other Pacific nations that Australia as “a big brother, can do more than what they are currently doing.”

Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. feared small island developing states’ pleas for global climate action might be drowned out by Australia’s lax climate policy.

Remengesau told the media on Wednesday, July 31, that if Australia, being situated in the midst of the Pacific, does not take the lead in curbing climate change then it would be difficult to expect other big nations from all over the world to heed the pleas of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the region.

“We really need the developed partners of the world, the big countries, to do their share in reducing the emissions and the greenhouse that contributes to climate warming and climate change,” Remengesau said, saying that the SIDS are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Remengesau said that Palau shares the sentiment of other Pacific nations that Australia as “a big brother, can do more than what they are currently doing.”

“This is something that we’re not hesitant to say. We are already asking Australia to take a more active and a more partnership role as a big brother in this fight [against climate change],” Remengesau added.

Leaders of small island nations in the Pacific had recently called on developed nations to stop using “carry-over credits” to meet its climate change commitment under the Paris Agreement, a move interpreted as a veiled jab against Australia’s climate policy.

Pacific leaders who met in Fiji during the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) held on July 31 had signed the Nadi Bay Declaration to call on countries to stop using carry-over credits to fulfill commitment under the Paris Agreement and to also stop new coal mining companies.

Australia had been in the middle of controversy since last year after a report came out that it had been using credits earned in previous climate deals such as the Kyoto Protocol to achieve its commitment under the Paris Agreement. They also urged Australia to halt coal mining immediately.

Low-lying Pacific island nations had been long concerned by the rising sea levels attributed by Science to climate change. Just earlier in July 2019, the Palau congress had introduced a bill in the Senate proposing for a relocation of the Belau National Hospital due to rising tides.

“Located in a low area, the hospital is in constant threat to the perils of climate change,” the Senate bill read. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)