Barbara Dreaver | TVNZ | 10 March 2019
One of the smallest countries in the Pacific has given Australia a roasting over its coal mining policies.
The low lying island of Tuvalu faces the full impact of climate change, and given the Regional Pacific Forum meeting is to be held there, fireworks are likely.
It wants firm action from Australia on its coal mining policies.
“I would implore and impress on the leaders of Australia to reconsider their coal mining policy and the $64 million dollars they are getting from selling their coal,” says Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sopoaga.
It’s a big call for financially strapped Tuvalu to tell Australia to keep its aid.
“There is no point in giving ODA (Official Development Assistance), we appreciate it of course but giving it at the same time as continuing polluting the atmosphere and increasing the cost of adaptation I think just doesn’t work well,” Mr Sopoaga says.
But Tuvalu has a trump card. Its tiny shores will be hosting and driving the upcoming forum.
The small island states will be expecting to have their voices heard and with Frank Bainimarama attending for the first time in years, Fiji won’t be sitting on the side lines either.
As a world driver on climate change action, this could be an opportunity for Fiji to flex its muscles.
Despite a lot of diplomatic healing in recent times, Fiji’s prime minister still wants New Zealand and Australia out of the forum.
New Zealand First’s Winston Peters says much time has been spent resetting New Zealand’s relationship with Fiji.
“We are talking about a very expanded partnership going into the future, understanding it’s just not the interests of Fiji that we are talking about or the interests of New Zealand we are talking about but indeed our whole neighbourhood,” he said.
The whole neighbourhood will converge in Tuvalu in August and with 18 Pacific leaders at the table, it knows it has a captive audience.