Fiji has criticized developed nations for behaving selfishly and not doing enough to combat climate change, which is putting many Pacific Island nations at risk.
At the 2nd Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) that took place in Palau June 19-20, Fijian Prime Minister Vorque Bainimarama expressed the region´s “collective disappointment and dismay” with the international community for their lack of unity in combating climate change.
"The collective will to adequately address the crisis is receding at a time when the very existence of some Pacific Island nations is threatened by rising sea levels," said Bainimarama.
"History will judge you harshly if you abandon us to our apparent fate of sinking below the waves because you don't want to make the necessary adjustment to your domestic policies," he continued.
The low level elevation and small size of Fiji and other Pacific Island nations put them at high risk of partial or total inundation from rising sea levels caused by climate change, according to the regional Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Many of the islands are only a few metres above the current sea level and often critical infrastructure tends to be along the coastline.
The very existence of the Pacific Island nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands are already being threatened, while rising sea levels are presently swamping the coastal areas of other islands in the region, including Fiji, according to Bainimarama.
In February of this year, the Fijian President and Head of State Ratu Epeli Nailatikau announced that the people of Kiribati would be welcomed in Fiji if their country is submerged by rising seas.
In his appeal, Prime Minister Bainimarama made specific reference to Australia for not taking the issue of climate change seriously, accusing it of backtracking on its previous commitments on carbon emissions.
Since Tony Abbott was elected Prime Minister of Australia last year, he has dismantled the country´s carbon tax system that was set up by the previous administration. He has earned a reputation of being a climate change sceptic, while he once referred to global warming science as “absolute crap”, which he later retracted.
Abbott has also been trying to develop a Global Conservative Alliance on Climate Change, which will include Australia, Canada, the UK and India.
Earlier this year, Abbott met with Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper who has already expressed interest.
Their alliance, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, would be “a calculated attempt to push back against what both leaders see as a left-liberal agenda in favour of higher taxes, unwise interventions to address global warming, and an unhealthy attitude of state intervention”.
Abbott has also rejected pleas by US President Barrack Obama to put climate change on the agenda of the next G20 summit that will be hosted by Australia later this year. Abbott said that climate change will feature under other topics, such as energy efficiency, but that the summit will focus on the economy.
This year´s PIDF summit, themed “Green Growth in the Pacific: Building Resilient Sustainable Futures and Genuine Partnerships”, attracted 400 high-level participants from more than 10 Pacific Island governments, civil society and business circles, as well as observers from nations such as Morocco, Venezuela, Israel, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, and Georgia. This number is up from last year´s, when there were only 300 attendants.