2 Sep 2002

Australia says it will support initiatives to help Pacific Islands cope with rising seas

11:55 am on 2 September 2002

Australia says it will invest nearly four million US dollars to help Pacific islands battle rising seas despite refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

The pledge, some of which had already been announced, came as Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, sought partnerships for a package of proposed projects he unveiled on the sidelines of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.

Mr Qarase who as the current chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum represents the small island states, listed 12 key areas for cooperation including ocean conservation, land resources, tourism and related environmental vulnerability.

The news agency, AFP, says he also called for partnerships to help Pacific Islands that could be swamped by rising seas if the worst predictions about global warming prove true.

Mr Qarase described the launching of the Pacific umbrella initiatives as the start of a process of turning the summit outcomes into projects for implementation.

Responding to the call, the Australian Environment Minister David Kemp said Canberra would commit funds for an "adaption and vulnerability initiative to help Pacific island countries adapt to the future impact of extreme weather and other events".