Aust and NZ make no additional commitments on climate change

​Pacific Islands Forum Leaders appeared divided on their position on climate change as they emerged from their private Retreat at the Grand Papua Hotel in downtown Port Moresby.

Leaders of small island states maintained their position of temperature target of 1.5 degrees and loss and damage while Australia and New Zealand refused to budge from the 2 degrees target.

Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, one of the most vocal leader from the Smaller Island States told PACNEWS despite the Forum position, his country will push for the 1.5 degree target, loss and damage and an ambitious and legally binding target in Paris.

“I am happy with the outcomes except for the target of 1.5 degrees. Our colleagues as you know have difficulties with it insisting on the Copenhagen language and I said there was no agreement in Copenhagen on the global target of temperature reduction. There was only formal package of accords and there was no COP decision and that position was also reflected in Lima, Sopoaga explained to PACNEWS.

The Tuvaluan PM said Leaders had very robust discussions on climate change and refused to be drawn into discussion that Australia and New Zealand bullied their way into forcing the Pacific to give up what has been their consistent position since 2009.

“We have come up with some good decisions – reiterating the need for a strong outcome for COP21 in Paris and we need to have a legally binding agreement.

“That’s the position of the Forum Island Countries. It is 1.5 degrees and not 2 degrees. We will take it Paris and battle it out there, said PM Sopoaga.

At the Press Conference, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that his country will not give any additional commitments to climate change.

“Australia and New Zealand have very ambitious targets and there are no additional commitments, Abbott commenting on behalf of the two Pacific metropolitan powers.

President Anote Tong, who earlier in the week suggested Australia and New Zealand withdraw themselves from the Forum grouping if they do not meet the demands of Pacific Island Countries, especially on climate change said Leaders respected the position taken by the two countries.

“We respect that and we were able to sit down and agree on some issues, said President Tong, sitting next to Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand at the press conference.

The chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill did not want to be drawn into discussion on the influence of Australia and New Zealand in the final outcome but thanked them for understanding the challenges faced by Small Island countries in the Pacific already impacted by climate change.

“We recognised an increase in 1.5 degrees will severely exacerbate the sufferings faced by the most vulnerable Small Island States but all efforts will be made to stay within the global temperature goals noted in the COP decision in Lima last year, said PM O’Neill.

1/CP.20 decision of the Lima Conference of Parties last year calls for holding global average temperature increase to below 2 degrees.