Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Picture: AAP
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Picture: AAP

Morrison takes outlier climate position in Tuvalu

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has stood his ground at the Pacific Island Forum in Tuvalu as the only leader not to back a statement that would force Australia to put a stop to coalmining and go carbon-neutral by 2020.

Mr Morrison's position differed to New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and 16 other leaders who would have unanimously agreed to demands by small island nations for "an immediate global ban" on new coalmines and coal-fired power plants.

Mr Morrison forced a "qualification" to the declaration, disappointing forum host Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga.

"I think we can say we should have done more work for our ­people," Mr Sopoaga said.

Mr Morrison responded: "I'm accountable to the Australian ­people, that's who I'm accountable for."

Jacinda Ardern also expressed disappointment in Mr Morrison's position, saying that Australia had "to ­answer to the Pacific" for its ­stance on climate change.

Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones blasted Ardern on his radio show, saying, "She is a joke, this woman, an absolute and utter lightweight … I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat."

Mr Morrison in turn criticised Mr Jones, saying that his statements were "very disappointing" and "way out of line".

 

"I have two daughters so you can expect that's how I would feel personally about it," he said.

Mr Morrison told fellow leaders at the forum that "Australia's ­reliance on coal is actually falling" while arguing that the resource was still important to the economy, helping to fund foreign aid and providing education and ­employment opportunities for ­Pacific islanders.

Mr Morrison also opposed any statement calling for global temperature rises to be limited to 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels and called for the UN's Green Climate Fund to be replenished.

 

Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga meets with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a bilateral meeting during the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Picture: AAP.
Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga meets with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a bilateral meeting during the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Picture: AAP.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama singled out Ms Ardern's support for the Pacific nations' position on climate change. "When combating climate change, it's good to have an ally like New Zealand in your corner," he tweeted.

 

 

Malcolm Turnbull also weighed in on Twitter, clapping back against Mr Jones' attack on Ms Ardern.

"Jones should also apologise to @jacindaardern for his latest misogynistic rant," he tweeted.

 

Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, Tonga's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: AAP
Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, Tonga's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: AAP

There are fears that China may seek to exploit divisions among the leaders at the forum. Beijing's special envoy for the Pacific, Wang Xuefeng, was expected to talk up regional funding opportunities for President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative at a session on Thursday.