Pacific leaders not united on climate change

  • 11/09/2015
Kiribati President Anote Tong (AAP)
Kiribati President Anote Tong (AAP)

By Sarah Robson

The Pacific's smallest states, most vulnerable to the impact of rising sea levels, have failed to convince New Zealand and Australia to take a harder line on climate change.

Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby haven't been able to come up with a united stance on climate change to take to the United Nations talks in Paris later this year.

The forum's smallest members want global temperature rises limited to 1.5 degrees, but New Zealand and Australia were reluctant to get on board.

That left leaders effectively agreeing to disagree, acknowledging that low-lying states are particularly vulnerable and will be seeking a more ambitious target in Paris, but leaving the actual hard talking until then.

"It's not the best outcome that we would have liked," Kiribati President Anote Tong said.

"Unless we can do something very significant about it, it is going to be quite a serious issue.

"It's not about our economy, it's about our future survival, and I think this is the difference."

Both Prime Minister John Key and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott have defended the actions taken by their governments to reduce carbon emissions, in the face of criticism from the likes of Kiribati and Palau.

Mr Key has also suggested the focus should shift to the world's big emitters: China, India and the United States.

"I'm not saying New Zealand shouldn't play its part, it absolutely should, but we represent 0.15 percent of world emissions," Mr Key told reporters ahead of yesterday's meetings.

"A lot of these (Pacific) countries have a relationship with China, so one of the points we'll be making is: you know them well, you take aid from them, it's a good chance to talk to them about their climate change position as well."

The forum wraps up today.

NZN