Pacific Islands in Climate Change
New York: Before it became dominated by the United States’ effort to build a coalition for war with Islamic State, this week’s General Assembly of the United Nations was to have focused on climate change.
So far Australia has been as vocal about the former as it has been silent on the latter.
Speaking in the offices of his nation’s mission to the United Nations on Saturday afternoon, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum said he and the leaders of other Pacific island nations were bewildered by what he called “backsliding” on climate change by Australia, which the region had considered to be its “big brother down south”.
“Probably one of the most frustrating events of the past year for Pacific islanders is Australia’s strange behaviour when it comes to climate change,” he said.
Island nations had watched with dismay not only the abolition of the carbon tax in Australia, but also the defunding of scientific advisory bodies, said Mr de Brum.
“It just does not make sense, it goes against the grain of the world.
“Not only [is Australia] our big brother down south, Australia is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum and Australia is a Pacific island, a big island, but a Pacific island. It must recognise that it has a responsibility.
“The problems that have befallen the smaller countries are also Australia’s problems. You cannot remove Australia from the life and blood of the Pacific.”
He said Pacific island nations no longer have time to debate climate change or even to engage in dialogue about how it might be mitigated – they need immediate action.
“[Failure to act] for us would mean disappearance under the sea by the turn of the century.”