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China has told Pacific nations it recognises the “legitimate demands” of small island states for tackling climate change, and called on developed countries to “earnestly carry out their obligations” under the Paris agreement.
China’s Special Envoy to the Pacific, Ambassador Wang Xuefeng, told the Pacific Island Forum in Tuvalu today that “no matter how the international situation evolves, China will always be a good friend, partner and brother of Pacific Island countries”.
“China believes that all countries, big or small, are equals,” he said.
After Scott Morrison last night stared down Pacific island demands for an end to coal-fired power, Mr Wang talked up his own country’s efforts to tackle reduce its emissions.
Wang told PIF members that China backed “equitable global climate governance regime”.
“As the largest developing country in the world, China always attaches great importance to the special concerns and legitimate demands of small island countries in combating climate change,” he said.
“Developed countries should earnestly carry out their obligations set out in the (UN Climate Change) Convention and the (Paris) Agreement, including providing sufficient support in terms of finance, technology and capacity-building to small island countries and other developing countries to help them increase their capacities in combating climate change.
“China firmly upholds the principles and framework of the Convention, and remains committed to the principles of equity, “common but differentiated responsibilities”, and respective capabilities.”
Wang said China wanted to deal with climate change because of its domestic needs for sustainable development, “but also by its sense of responsibility of forging a community with a shared future for mankind”.
As Scott Morrison pushes his “Pacific step-up” Wang said China would “step up” its climate change engagement with the region at the upcoming China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and cooperation Forum in Samoa in October.
“China will also step up its efforts in South-South cooperation and do its best to make positive contribution to the sustainable and green development of Pacific Island Countries and jointly rekindle confidence in global cooperation against climate change,” he said.
China has 981,000MW of installed coal generation capacity, compared to Australia’s 25,150MW.
Minister for the Pacific Alex Hawke also pointed out to PIF members during talks to strike out “red line” commitments in the draft communique that China was a leading international coal miner.
He presented them with a table showing Australia had just 20 of the world’s 2459 operating coal mines, while 126 were in China.
The Prime Minister was left isolated at the forum last night, rejecting any wording in the PIF declaration backing “an immediate global ban” on new coalmines and coal-fired power plants, and calls by Pacific nations for a commitment to go carbon neutral by 2050.
He argued he could not endorse any statement that would undermine the Australia economy.
Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said the discussion between Pacific leaders and Mr Morrison was frank during last night’s leaders’ retreat.
“I said ‘You are concerned about saving your economy… I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu’,” he said.
“And likewise the leaders of small island counties. That was the tone of the discussion. Please don’t expect that we come and we bow down.”
Sopoaga said the marathon session, which dragged well into the night, was at times emotional.
“The Prime Minister of Tonga actually cried during the retreat,” he said.
But Morrison declared last night: “I’m accountable to the Australian people, that’s who I’m accountable for,” he said.
SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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