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Pacific leaders urge Australia to stop coal mining

MORE AMBITIOUS:In a statement at the end of a Pacific island forum, leaders called for Australia to boost its commitments in regard to fighting climate change

The Guardian

Pacific leaders have called on Australia to abandon plans to use carry-over credits to meet Paris climate targets and to immediately stop new coal mining, warning that some of their countries could be uninhabitable by as early as 2030.

In a strongly worded statement issued at the end of the annual Pacific Island Development Forum in Fiji, the leaders said that they were deeply concerned about a lack of “comprehension, ambition or commitment” from developed nations, despite the climate crisis posing grave consequences for their people.

They called for greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced immediately, pointing to “stark warnings” in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change setting out what would need to be done to limit a global temperature increase to 1.5°C.

“The science warns of the real possibility that coral atoll nations could become uninhabitable as early as 2030,” the statement, called the Nadi Bay Declaration, said.

“By 2100, the coral atoll nations of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tokelau and the Maldives and many [small island developing states] could be submerged,” it added.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne last week rejected calls from Pacific states for Australia to do more to combat climate change, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corp that they “should be pleased” that it was meeting the target that it set at the 2015 Paris meeting.

Most climate experts have said that Australia is not expected to meet its 2030 emissions target — a 26 to 28 percent cut below 2005 levels — under current policies and that the country would need to make much deeper cuts than proposed to play its part under the Paris agreement.

Since the Liberal-National Coalition repealed a national carbon price scheme, Australia’s emissions have risen year-on-year.

In a clear reference to Australia, the statement called on the countries to refrain from using carry-over credits from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to meet targets under the Paris agreement.

Almost all other developed countries have said they would not use carry-over credits, which Australia has access to after over-achieving compared with its Kyoto agreement target of a 5 percent cut below 2000 levels.

Analysts have said that using these credits effectively reduces Australia’s Paris commitment by about 8 percentage points.

The statement signed by nine leaders also called on coal producers “to immediately cease any new mining of coal and develop a strategy for a decadal phaseout and closure of all existing coal production.”

It urged developed countries to take immediate steps to stop subsidies to fossil fuels, and to support climate finance and technology transfer for vulnerable nations.

The climate emergency “poses the single greatest threat to the human rights and security of present and future generations of Pacific Island peoples,” it said.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called on all developed countries — but especially what he called “our larger neighbors in the Pacific” — to hear the call ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu in two weeks and make their Paris commitments more ambitious.

“We cannot allow climate commitments to be watered down in the meeting hosted by the nation whose very existence is threatened by the rising waters lapping at its shores,” he said.

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