The hopes of the smaller Pacific nations to get full endorsement of their declaration for strong action on climate change have been dashed. Regional leaders, including Australia and New Zealand, have held 12-hour long talks, eventually reaching an agreement on a statement on climate change and a communique.
No endorsements come out of Tuvalu Declaration, falling short of Pacific leaders’ hopes
But the communique comes with a qualification that means the leaders do not support all of the declaration from the smaller nations.
Earlier in the week, the Smaller Island States (SIS) group agreed to the Tuvalu Declaration, which acknowledges a climate change crisis, encourages countries to revise the emissions reductions targets and calls for a rapid phase out coal use.
They had hoped the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, which includes Australia and New Zealand, would endorse the Tuvalu Declaration.
But Australia expressed reservations about several sections, and New Zealand at least one, so the final communique endorses the Smaller Island States “with qualifications.”
That means no country has fully committed to endorsing the Tuvalu Declaration.
Speaking after the marathon leaders meeting, Mr Morrison said he wanted the SIS group to be able to express its views “freely” but that its statement was not binding on the rest of the forum.
“The Pacific Island Forum has its leaders meeting and it agrees to the things that it agrees. And then the Small Island States have their own forum that sit within that,” he said.
“And it’s not incumbent on the leaders forum to have to run a ruler over that.”
That has disappointed the PIF chair, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, who said as he left the meeting: “we tried our best.”
“It was a negotiated outcome, I think it still contains some references to the (UN) Secretary-General’s message to accelerate actions against climate change and it’s a way forward,” he said.
Mr Sopoaga has invested significant time and energy in making climate change the central focus of this meeting.
The outcome falls short of what he and some other Pacific leaders had hoped.
“I think we can say we should’ve done more work for our people.”