The tasteless joking between immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the threat of rising sea levels to Pacific Islands — caught on a microphone after the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meeting — sums up the Australian government's attitude to the victims of its climate inaction. The 46th PIF leaders' meeting in Port Moresby ended without reaching agreement on a united position to take to the Paris climate summit later this year. Pacific Island leaders could not convince Australia and New Zealand to agree on more ambitious targets.
President Anote Tong from the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati does not mince words on the urgent need to phase out coal. He cannot afford to — his country is literally disappearing as a result of global warming. Tong released a statement on August 13 calling on countries to commit to phasing out coal before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December where more than 190 countries are expected to attend. “A global moratorium on new coal mines [is] an essential initial step in our collective global action against climate change,” he said.
A meeting of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action took place in the Marshall Islands on April 1. The body is composed of 30 countries working towards a legally binding United Nations climate change convention before of an international summit next year. Delegates had a chance to witness first-hand the effects of climate change in the host country, a small atoll nation in the Pacific Ocean, where no land rises more than two metres above sea level.