NADI, 31 JULY 2019 (ABC)—Pacific nations have formally called on Australia to stop using carry-over credits to meet climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement.
In a clear rebuff to recent Australian comments, Pacific leaders meeting in Fiji Tuesday signed the Nadi Bay Declaration, which calls on countries to “refrain from using carry-over credits as an abatement for the additional Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets”.
It came after Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Pacific states “should be pleased” with Australia’s actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia controversially counts some emissions reductions achieved during the past decade under the Kyoto Protocol towards reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
The carry-over does not breach the Paris Agreement because there has been no international consensus on the rules, but Australia’s decision to count past emissions towards new targets has been widely condemned.
Pacific states have long demanded Australia does more domestically to tackle climate change, given the threat it poses to the future viability of small islands and atolls.
But Senator Payne brushed off the criticisms last week, telling the ABC “I think that they [Pacific states] should be pleased that Australia is meeting our Paris commitments, that is something we are absolutely locked in to doing”.
As well as a halt to using carryover credits, the Nadi Bay Declaration, signed at the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), calls for a halt to new coal mining projects and the phasing out of coal-fired power generation over the next decade.
An earlier draft of the Nadi Bay Declaration seen by the ABC was even stronger in its condemnation, describing the use of carry-over credits as “underhanded” — a reference that was ultimately left out of the final document.
The leaders of Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Timor Leste and Tonga signed the declaration along with non-government organisations and private sector representatives.
As chair of the PIDF, Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama put his voice to the demands, asking developed economies to make their Paris emissions reduction commitments more ambitious “including and most especially our larger neighbours in the Pacific”.
It sets the stage for a tense meeting in two weeks’ time, when Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison sits down with regional leaders at the Pacific Islands.
“As we look ahead to the Pacific Islands Forum … we should not accept anything less than concrete commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with the most ambitious aspirations of the Paris Agreement,” Bainimarama said.
“We cannot allow climate commitments to be watered down in the meeting hosted by the nation whose very existence is threatened by the rising waters lapping at its shores.”
Speaking last week, Senator Payne pointed to the support Australia was providing for climate change abatement and mitigation.
“We are investing $300 million (US$206 million) across the region in climate resilience-focused support with Pacific island countries … we also have a $1 billion (US$688 million) commitment to developing nations across five years,” she said.
The Australia Institute’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian described the Nadi Bay Declaration as “a powerful message to Australia … to lift their game on climate action.”
“Prime Minister Morrison will be in Tuvalu in a fortnight to meet regional leaders, and they have made it crystal clear they will advocate for their largest neighbour to step on climate change, including moving away from coal,” he said.
“The Prime Minister will struggle to sell a sensible and balanced approach to climate change when the Pacific have just declared a regional climate emergency,” said Merzian. (PACNEWS)