Ahead of Scott Morrison’s arrival at the Pacific Islands Forum, the Australian government announced a $500 million climate change and oceans package for the Pacific region.
The government has set aside $500 million in funding over five years, which will begin in 2020, to go toward helping Pacific nations invest in renewable energy and “climate and disaster relief”, as reported by ABC News.
The funds will reportedly build on the $300 million given by the Government across 2016 and 2020. The additional $200 million will be redirected from existing aid programs and is not additional financial support for the region.
This comes ahead of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s arrival in Tuvalu for the Pacific Islands Forum on Wednesday, where he is expected to face strong pressure from Pacific Island leaders urging Australia to commit to action in reducing fossil fuel emissions.
On Monday, during a one-day climate conference hosted by Tuvalu’s government, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama – a leading climate advocate and the former president of the United Nations’ leading climate body, Conference of the Parties – issued a direct appeal to Australia to move away from coal-powered energy.
“Put simply, the case for coal as an energy source cannot continue to be made if every nation is to meet the net zero emission target by 2050 that has been set by the UN secretary general and every other responsible leader of the climate struggle,” Bainimarama said, according to The Guardian.
Arriving at Funafuti airport for the Summit, leaders from across the Pacific were greeted by the children of Tuvalu, who were sitting submerged in a moat built around the model of an island, singing: “Save Tuvalu, save the world”.
Tuvalu, a nation of some 11,000 people, is at risk from rising sea levels caused by climate change.
The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, told The Guardian ahead of the forum that he had concerns about Australia’s coal policy as a means of reducing emissions. He added that the “positive relationship” with Australia could change if his people were not “taken seriously”.
I hope we can be more understanding that the people of Tuvalu and small island countries are already submerged, are already going underwater,” Sopoaga told The Guardian.