Representing the independent group Pacific Elders’ Voice (PEV), they met with several MPs on Wednesday, calling for deeper cuts to emissions and for new coal and gas projects to be cut down or stopped.
“We made it absolutely clear that whilst welcoming that [the bill], we want to make the point that this is still some way between what the science indicates is needed in order to be able to avert this impending disaster. For countries like ours, our future is at stake,” Mr Tong told reporters in Canberra, alongside independent Senator David Pocock.
Former President of Kiribati Anote Tong says more must be done to combat climate change. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS
“Unless we can do more on climate change, our future – the future of my grandchildren, our grandchildren – will be at stake.”
“But time is not what we have, because nature is giving us very strong signals … we hope that you as a people, as part of this global community, will be able to do that right thing.”
“With Australia being the big brother, it needs to take the lead when it comes to issues of climate change.”
COP meeting bid a ‘contradiction’ with new fossil fuel projects
But the former leader said the bid would be a “perfect opportunity” for the Pacific to come together “and show the rest of the world we are doing something meaningful in our own backyard”.
“We support Australia hosting because it would be in our part of the world … But to be part of something that’s not doing the right thing is wrong. So hopefully, Australia will make a decision on what to do on the coal issue.”
Climate change the ‘primary security issue’ for the Pacific
“I know there are currently tensions in the region. But I’ve always believed we all have our own respective roles in our collective security.”
Former President of Palau, Thomas Esang Jr., says Australia is the ‘big brother’ in the Pacific region and needs to take the lead on climate action. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS
Mr Remengesau Jr. agreed climate change is the “heart of security”, and must be balanced with geo-defence.
“It’s a matter of balancing what needs to be done first. And to us it’s not military positioning; it’s the existential threat of climate change.”
Australia has a ‘moral responsibility’ to stand with the Pacific on climate
Senator Pocock acknowledged the leadership of the former Pacific presidents, saying they have shown “the leadership we’ve been missing in Australia”.
Independent Senator David Pocock. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS
Having heard “good talk” from the government on climate, he said he would be using his position in the Senate “to play my role in pushing them on that, to actually act in line with what the community wants here in Australia and what our Pacific island nation neighbours want.”