Oxfam says the small Pacific countries sticking to their position on climate change at the Pacific Islands Forum is a plus for the region.
Oxfam admires Pacific SIS stance at Forum
The NGO Oxfam says smaller Pacific Island countries showed at last week's Forum summit that they will not be pushed around on key issues like climate change.
The leaders agreed to disagree on what position the region should take to the COP21 meeting in Paris later this year.
Most Pacific states want a 1.5 degrees temperature limit but New Zealand and Australian did not budge from the 2 degrees that much of the rest of the world talks of aspiring to.
Don Wiseman asked Oxfam policy advisor, Luke Roughton, if this split is a concern.
LUKE ROUGHTON: I think that this Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting has shown that Pacific Island countries aren't willing to back down on climate change. Pacific Island countries know that this is an issue of survival for them and the fact that they weren't willing to bow to Australia and New Zealand pressure to water down a statement on climate change I think is a positive signal for the Pacific. What we should be worried about I think is that New Zealand and Australia aren't willing to create climate targets that are strong enough to ensure the Pacific survives.
DON WISEMAN: A week ago the Pacific Islands Development Forum came out with a far stronger statement with its Suva declaration. How does this ambivalent situation with the Pacific Islands Forum sit compared with that?
LR: I think it demonstrates the influence of Australia and New Zealand in terms of the Forum statement versus the Pacific Island Forum development statement. I think it shows that there is that split that difference of opinion and of understanding of what is needed in terms of climate change action. So what the Pacific is showing is that they will work together as they need to, to call for ambitious Climate Change targets regardless of whether Australia and New Zealand come along with them. But Australia and New Zealand do need to take another look at their own domestic climate change targets so that they can actually fulfill the obligations necessary to ensure the survival of the Pacific.
DW: We are seeing a sign here of the smaller Pacific countries going to the next step in terms of asserting independence.
LR: Yea I think increasingly as Pacific Island are facing issues that threaten their existence that threaten their livelihoods and where those interests don't necessary align with Australian and New Zealand interests in the region. I think we are increasingly seeing a split on certain issues and that's why forums like the Pacific Islands Development Forum have sprung up and the emergence of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. New Zealand and Australian need to take a good hard look at what their priorities are in the region. The emergence of these other forums and the willingness of Pacific Island countries to take independent stands on these issues shows that New Zealand and Australia need to think about what their place is in the region and how they can work with Pacific Island countries as a region.
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