Australian decision reduces PM to tears
A PRIME Minister has been brought to tears over Australia's stalled efforts around climate change.
Wrapping up the Pacific Island Forum held this week in Tuvalu, the tiny nation's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said the international leaders' meeting had been emotional.
"The Prime Minister of Tonga actually cried, in the retreat, did you know that?" Mr Sopoaga said in a press conference alongside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
"The leader of Tonga actually shed tears in front of the leaders, because of the passion referring to the presentation from the two young warriors of climate change the other day."
Mr Sopoaga appeared defeated, saying the leaders had "tried our best".
"We expressed very strongly during our exchange, between me and Scott (Morrison), I said: 'You are concerned about saving your economy in Australia … I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu'," he said.
Pacific leaders have warned the world faces a climate crisis and complained their message on global warming had been "watered down" at Australia's insistence.
The annual forum wrapped up in Tuvalu late Thursday with Australia and the group's 17 other members sharply at odds on climate change, potentially undermining Canberra's efforts to curb China's growing influence in the region.
Leaders of island nations, many of which are threatened by rising seas, talked tough throughout the summit, criticising Australia's lack of action on the "existential threat" of global warming.
Their aim was to issue a compelling global call to action from nations on the frontline of climate change ahead of UN talks in New York next month.
But Mr Sopoaga conceded that a climate statement and communique released in the early hours of Friday morning after 12 hours of tense negotiations fell short of expectations.
"I think we can say we should've done more work for our people," he told reporters.
Mr Morrison defended Australia's position this morning.
"All the commitments I should stress, that have been made here by Australia, are consistent with the commitments that we have given and Australian government policy, in relation particularly to our commitments to the 2030 Paris emissions reduction targets," he said.
"The conversations I also would note were very respectful as well. And I understand the deep sensitively to these issues, particularly where we're standing. And I showed respect towards that in my engagements."
Mr Morrison said going forward it wasn't just climate change that needed to be addressed.
'The issue of plastics pollution in the Pacific is a very serious one," he said.
"It's not just about visual pollution, it gets its way into the food chain of the Pacific and it ends up deteriorating fertility in Pacific Island peoples."
Mr Morrison said Australia was the biggest investor in the Pacific's development and protection of any nation on the planet, investing $1.4 billion in the region every year.
"I understand the deep sensitivities," he said.
"It's not a theoretical issue, it's not a dinner party conversation here in the Pacific. It's a real conversation. And we had a real conversation last night."
The PIF statements refer to a climate crisis and reiterate previous warnings that global warming is the most serious threat facing the Pacific.
"The time to act is now," the leaders said.
But there was no direct mention of ending coal-fired power, while calls to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050 were couched as suggestions rather than demands.
"We came together in a nation that risks disappearing to the seas, but unfortunately, we settled for the status quo in our communique," Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama tweeted.
"Watered-down climate language has real consequences - like waterlogged homes, schools, communities, and ancestral burial grounds."