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Small Pacific Island nations press PM on carbon emissions

Mr Morrison announced on Tuesday his government would redirect more than half a billion dollars in foreign aid towards renewable energy projects and disaster relief throughout the Pacific amid calls to “do more” to curb the threat facing his neighbours.

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But Mr Sopoaga said there was no point talking about national policies if developed nations continued to ignore the effects they would have on people’s lives.

“When we talk about these things in isolation from the real lives of people, it doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

“No matter how much money you put on the table, it doesn’t give you the excuse not to do the right thing. That is cutting down your emissions, including not opening new coal mines. That is the thing we want to see.”

The group of eight – Tuvala, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, the Cook Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia – issued a statement following their forum, declaring climate change the single greatest threat to the security of Pacific Island nations.

“We have crossed the threshold with respect to dangerous interference with the climate system and we are now threatening the existence of current and future generations.”

The declaration also called on all financial institutions, including commercial and investment banks, pension funds and other major funds, to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy projects.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama also appealed directly to Australia on Monday to transition away from coal-powered energy and said the government must “more fully appreciate” the threat facing Pacific nations.

International Development and the Pacific Minister Alex Hawke, in Tuvalu for the forum ahead of Mr Morrison’s arrival, said Australia was listening on the issue of climate change.

“We will be doing more. We will be spending more through our package and dealing [with] the adaptation, the resilience needs of the Pacific,” Mr Hawke said.

The Australian government is making a transition over time, but importantly in the Pacific, will be spending money on renewable energy.

International Development and the Pacific Minister Alex Hawke

He said the federal government would deal with Pacific nations on a bilateral basis to ensure the money would be spent on priority areas.

“The Australian government is making a transition over time, but importantly in the Pacific, will be spending money on renewable energy,” he said.

“This is the most amount of money Australia has ever spent on climate in the Pacific.”

The $500 million in foreign aid funding will be used to invest in renewable energy, ensure new infrastructure can withstand disasters and ensure health services can better respond to changing needs.

Mr Morrison said on Tuesday Australia would “smash” its 2020 Kyoto commitments, would meet its Paris Agreement target and that he would relay that to Pacific leaders when he travelled to Tuvalu on Wednesday.

“So we’re turning up, we’re showing up. So what the Step Up is all about in the Pacific, it’s about showing up with this type of support,” Mr Morrison said.

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