Australian PM announces new Pacific climate fund
Canberra, Aug 13 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday announced a new climate change funding to protect Pacific communities.
Morrison committed A$500 million ($337 million) over five years from 2020 to the initiative, saying that his government recognized the specific challenges posed to the Pacific by climate change, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said in a statement that the full details of the package would be revealed when he attends a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu this week.
"The Pacific is our home, which we share as a family of nations. We're here to work with our Pacific partners to confront the potential challenges they face in the years ahead," the PM said in a statement.
"The A$500 million we're investing for the Pacific's renewable energy and its climate change and disaster resilience builds on the A$300 million for 2016-2020. This highlights our commitment to not just meeting our emissions reduction obligations at home but supporting our neighbours and friends," he said.
The announcement came a day after Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called on Australia to end its reliance on coal, describing climate change an "existential threat" to island nations.
Marise Payne, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that the new package aligned with Morrison's Pacific step-up, an initiative aimed at increasing the country's presence in the region.
"The funding will continue projects that have meant school children can be safer in their school buildings, farmers and business people can have more assured access to markets and households can have cheaper and more reliable renewable energy," she added.
The existence of several island nations in the Pacific is being threatened due to their loss of territory and the progressive salinization of soil and drinking water, Efe news reported.
In May, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the climate emergency as "the defining issue of our time" during a visit of several countries in the South Pacific, in which he warned of the fading political will to fight climate change.