The Pacific Islands Forum needs to take a strong and united stand on both mitigating and coping with climate change at its 42nd meeting in Auckland next week, the Green Parties of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea said today.
In a joint statement, the Greens expressed concern at how little has been achieved since the Call to Action on Climate Change issued by the Forum leaders in 2009.
We appeal to this Forum meeting to give serious attention to climate change as a global issue of vital importance to us all. It is a matter of life and death in low-lying Pacific island countries. They are faced with rising sea levels, salinisation of coastal land, dying reefs and disappearing fisheries.
Add to this the more violent hurricanes which are visited upon the islands as air and sea temperatures rise. The very viability of these nations is threatened.
The Forum should commit to substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with special targets. We hope it will endorse the call of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) for developed countries to reduce emissions by 45% by 2020 and 90% by 2050.
The two developed countries in the Forum, Australia and New Zealand, need to demonstrate a new commitment to combat climate change both in their own carbon reduction policies and in the mitigation assistance they give to their neighbours, particularly low-lying states like Kiribati and Tuvalu.
The Greens call upon the Forum to develop immediate plans to ameliorate the extent and effects of climate change, including:
i. Renewable energy plans and aid from Australia and New Zealand to Pacific nations.
ii. Opposition to deforestation and the associated expansion of palm oil plantations.
iii. Reducing the influence of logging and palm oil interests on the domestic politics of island states and Papua New Guinea.
The Forum also needs to map out a migration programme for those who, because of the effects of climate change, can no longer remain in their home countries in the Pacific.
Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said "Australia and New Zealand are both taking big steps in putting a price on carbon, but both countries need to lift the level of ambition if the impact of climate change on our Pacific neighbours is going to be properly addressed.
"We particularly call on Prime Ministers Gillard and Key to show by their actions, not just words, a renewed resolve to assist the Pacific nations against this existential threat."
"Islands bear a disproportionate burden from climate change," said Dorothy Tekwie, President of the Papua New Guinea Greens "yet they are not responsible for the causes and have no control over the outcome."
New Zealand Green Party spokesperson on Climate Change, Kennedy Graham said "New Zealand has a special relationship with the Pacific nations; but our Government's strategy desperately needs to be updated to reflect the impact of climate change on our neighbours."
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