FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (Reuters) – Australia should do more to reduce its carbon emissions and giving cash to countries battling climate change was not enough, Pacific island leaders said on Tuesday in a rebuke of Canberra’s latest attempt to improve ties with the region.
Australia will give A$500 million ($339 million) to Pacific island nations for renewable energy projects and to help them prepare for the impact of climate change, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday before a trip to the region.
Leaders from the Pacific’s smallest islands, who say rising sea levels are an existential threat to their low-lying nations, said Canberra’s announcement did not excuse its support for the country’s coal industry.
“No matter how much cash you put on the table, it does not give you the excuse not to do the right thing, that is to cut down on emissions and not open coal mines,” Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, who is also chair of the Pacific Small Islands States meeting, told reporters.
The smaller states met in Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu, ahead of Tuesday’s opening of the Pacific Islands Forum which Morrison will attend.