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Tensions rise over Pacific Island climate talks: Leaders fail to reach an agreement on climate action

This week’s Pacific Island Forum, billed as "the most important annual political meeting for the Pacific region" was supposed to be a step towards global cooperation on climate action.

It is worrying, therefore, that the talks have ended in disagreement. Specifically, Australia and New Zealand have rejected a push by smaller island states for the rise in global temperatures to be limited to 1.5 degrees (the Paris target is 2 degrees).

Kiribati President Anote Tong has spoken out about his disappointment that larger nations have not cooperated as hoped:
It's not the best outcome that we would have liked, but we have to respect that
- Anote Tong

The decision by Australia and New Zealand has been criticised by small island leaders, who feel that their own urgency is prompted by the very real threat of changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. This dissatisfaction with the two larger nation's commitment to climate targets led to Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to boycott the Pacific Forum.

The Forum did agree, however, to present the 1.5-degree proposal at Paris talks in December.

We as Pacific countries accept that, for low-lying states, they are particularly vulnerable and they would seek an even more ambitious target in Paris
- NZ PM John Key

What do you think? Should Australia and NZ be willing to commit to more ambitious targets?

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Banner image: House of Travel


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