• Pacific Islands leaders gather to address climate change

    The smallest Pacific island states are calling for no new coal mines and a ‘polluter-pays’ system to compensate the countries most affected by climate change.


    Stefan Armbruster



    8 SEP 2015 - 9:28 AM  UPDATED 9 SEP 2015 - 6:42 AM

    The proposals are some of the more contentious issues up for discussion by the 16 leaders at Pacific Island Forum in Port Moresby this week.

    Climate change is top of agenda at the annual summit ahead of the United Nation climate conference in Paris in December.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to arrive at the summit tomorrow and is expected to get a frosty reception because of Australia’s position on climate change.

    Listen: SBS Queensland Correspondent Stefan Armbruster speaking to SBS Radio from Port Moresby 

    "We are simply seeking the right of small island states to survive," said prime minister of Tuvalu and chair of the Smaller Island State grouping, Enele Sosene Sopoaga.

    “We feel our security is compromise and survival of the people of the Pacific is compromised.”

    “Adaptation and mitigation are there but [we are] also calling for inclusion in the new legal agreement [in Paris] with strong provision for loss and damages, as separate from adaptation.”

    A press conference is held at the forum. (SBS)

    The leaders of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu know what they want to save their islands, including an end to coal mining. 

    "We are simply seeking the right of small island states to survive."

    “We are looking for a new energy mix for the world economy, particularly a shift away from fossil fuels and focus more on renewable energy sources and call for global action on the coal industry,” Mr. Sopoaga said.

    Pacific leaders hope Mr. Abbott will listen to their pleas.

    “All the Pacific island states are on board, of course it’s up to Australia to respond, but this is coming from leaders of small islands states who are already injured,” Mr. Sopoaga said.

    Closely tied to climate change are talks on preparedness for disaster recovery, with category 5 tropical cyclone Pam that hit Vanuatu this year held up as an example.

    When the formal forum meeting starts tomorrow there will be five issues on the table. 

    The next most contentious is human rights abuses in Indonesia’s West Papuan provinces. 


    Pacific Island Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor. (AAP)

    An application by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua to become Forum observers is unlikely to succeed.

    “I don’t think it will be accepted by the Forum leaders, my feel is that it will take some time,” said forum host and prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill.

    Tomorrow the Pacific leaders, minus Mr. Abbott, begin discussions in earnest. 

    Also up for discussion are management of fisheries, improving communications networks throughout the Pacific region and the impact of cervical cancer.

    “It’s one that many people were surprised by when it came through,” said Dame Meg Taylor, secretary general of the forum.

    “We have very strong data from Melanesia and Micronesia about the impact. It’s a serious health concern and a political issue for the leaders to address.”

    The Pacific Island Forum consists of Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.