Vulnerable Pacific islands require “urgent and immediate” climate action

published on Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 10:58 a.m

Vulnerable Pacific islands on Thursday called for “urgent and immediate” global action on climate change, stressing their commitment to democracy and a “rules-based” international order in the face of China’s growing influence in the region.

At a summit in Fiji’s capital Suva, Pacific island leaders stressed time was running out to avoid “worst-case scenarios” that would see their countries, many of which lie just above sea level, engulfed or become uninhabitable by increasingly powerful storms. .

“We are on the front line facing the adverse effects of climate change,” reminded the leaders in the joint strategic document for 2050, which they adopted after three days of discussions.

They then called for “urgent, vigorous and transformative action” at all levels, national, regional and global.

The 2022 edition of the Pacific Islands Forum was the most important in recent years: the climate emergency is more pressing for low-lying islands and the forum could not be held during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the summit was marked by geopolitical rivalry in the region, especially between the United States and China.

US Vice President Kamala Harris announced in a video that Washington will open two new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati, appoint a regional envoy and inject an additional $600 million into the region.

China has made no secret of its ambitions in the region, deploying its state-owned enterprises there and applying check diplomacy.

If Beijing signed a much-criticized security agreement with the Solomon Islands this year, the country’s Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare reassured his island partners by announcing on the sidelines of the summit that he would not host a foreign military base.

Establishing such a base would make the Solomon Islands an “enemy” of the Pacific and “make our country and our people potential targets for military attack”, Sogavare told RNZ Pacific television.

Elliot Frost

"Pop culture maven. Analyst. Writer. Wannabe food evangelist. Organizer. Friendly internet lover. Incurable troublemaker. Entrepreneur."

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