More Top Stories


Bigger and busier 2023: PM

31 December 2022

Other Sports

Double gold for Darts

21 January 2023


Covid-19 cases stable: TMO

10 January 2023


Population policy endorsed

10 January 2023


PM Brown vows to change law

23 January 2023

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022


We’re halfway there!

16 November 2022


From the river to the ocean

18 November 2022

Forum demands climate support

Wednesday 9 September 2015 | Published in Regional


PORT MORESBY – Australia has been warned it could be asked to leave the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) if it does not start supporting stronger action on climate change.

“I think it would be incumbent on them because how relevant would their presence be,” Kiribati president Anote Tong said. “We expect them as a our big brothers to support us on this one.”

Australia and New Zealand are the two most economically powerful members of the PIF, which is meeting this week in Port Moresby.

Tong’s comments follow similar remarks he made on Monday that Australia and New Zealand should show they were “real friends” by supporting more action on climate change.

Tong warned that many people in the region would have to flee in waves similar to the current migrant crisis in Europe unless stronger action was taken to reduce emissions.

Pacific nations have called to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, saying the current goal of two degrees above the pre-industrial level would push many beyond their ability to adapt.

Kiribati, with its population of 110,000 spread across 33 low-lying islands, is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in Port Moresby and will take part in the main PIF leaders retreat today.

On Tuesday, Tong invited Abbott to visit Kiribati to see the impacts of climate change for himself.

“I’d love for him to come and stay for the rest of his life,” Tong said.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he is “comfortable” with his country’s work on climate change despite mounting pressure for Pacific Island Forum leaders to do more.

Key says he is happy with the work New Zealand has done.

“You can understand absolutely why countries that are very low-lying would have concerns about anticipated rises in sea-levels.”

“And of course they would do everything they can to advocate for that.”

“But New Zealand doesn’t look to try and close them down or run away from the targets we’ve set and the actions that we’ve taken. I actually genuinely believe that we are doing the right thing.”

Meanwhile, John Key has called Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama out on his absence at the Forum.

The pair were scheduled to both attend the PIF in Port Moresby this week but Bainimarama is a no-show and Key said “it would have been nice” if he had turned up.

Key acknowledged it was Bainimarama’s decision saying, “if he doesn’t want to come, he doesn’t have to come.”

There are indications Bainimarama has been stirring up trouble by encouraging smaller Pacific states to thumb their noses at New Zealand and Australia this week, Fairfax reports.

Bainimarama has an issue with Australia and New Zealand’s “undue influence” at PIF and has gone as far as to say Fiji won’t attend PIF until the two countries are expelled.

He reportedly believes PIF no longer serves the best interests of Pacific Islanders.

Bainimarama has long taken issue with New Zealand and Australia’s heavy stance in some areas, in particular their handling of Fiji being banned from PIF in 2009 after failing to return the country to democracy following the Bainimarama-led 2006 coup.

But Key disagrees there is a Fiji-led snub brewing and said while Bainimarama still has issues with the way Fiji was dealt with following the coup – the relationship between the two countries had been “fully restored.”

“I think we took the right stance, it was something initiated by Prime Minister John Howard in Australia and Prime Minister Helen Clark in New Zealand and it was to say, and rightfully so, that people are entitled to democracy.”

“When governments are elected at a ballot box it’s respected but we can’t do that if it’s at the barrel of a gun,” he said.

New Zealand had “honoured” its commitment to help fund elections in Fiji and “it’s a matter for them now as to how much engagement they have,” Key said.

While Fiji appeared to take some issue with New Zealand and Australia – Key said relationships with other Pacific leaders were strong and many spoke “very fondly of New Zealand.”

“No country is more important or less important but Australia and New Zealand are significant funders and we have a special place for certain reasons, not least because Auckland is the largest Pacific city in the world,” Key said.