This year’s Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting — the most important annual political meeting for the Pacific region — comes less than three months ahead of critical climate change negotiations in Paris, and in the wake of a series of severe climate-related disasters in the Pacific. It follows international condemnation of Australia and New Zealand’s contributions towards tackling global climate change and comes amidst strong efforts by Pacific Island leaders and civil society to catalyse international action and cooperation.
Australia and New Zealand are surrounded by some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change on earth. The Australian and New Zealand governments need to fully recognise the dangers facing Pacific Island countries and territories, and work hand-in-hand as a united Pacific towards solutions. As a first step, Australia and New Zealand should join Pacific Island leaders in a strong political statement that clearly communicates the minimum requirements for a new international climate agreement if it is to ensure the survival of all Pacific Island Forum members. More importantly, Australia and New Zealand must increase their climate targets and take action consistent with their status as high-emitting, industrialised countries.