Samoan PM calls on Canberra to do more to tackle climate change | Pacific Beat

Samoan PM calls on Canberra to do more to tackle climate change

Samoan PM calls on Canberra to do more to tackle climate change

Updated 28 August 2014, 16:51 AEST

Samoa's prime minister has issued an impassioned plea on behalf all Pacific nations for more help to cope with climate change and he has called on Australia, to lift its focus from the federal budget and lead the way.

The plea comes on the eve of the United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference - a once-in-a-decade event designed to ensure the world takes account of the special needs of our smallest neighbours.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Samoan prime minister

GARRETT: United Nation's Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is hoping that as leaders rub shoulders in Samoa new momentum will be created for strong action at his climate change summit in September.

The Small Island Developing States conference will tackle a host of problems faced by these vulnerable nations but for Samoa's prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi climate change is a top priority.

TUILAEPA: The world cannot understand the anxiety of our people in the Pacific which if the sea level rise takes effect, many many nations will sink under the rising sea. And it is a question of survival that we are talking about.

GARRETT: For more than 2 decades the low-lying island nations have been demanding action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and help with dealing with the impact of climate change.

The draft statement for the conference makes it clear the time for action is now.

Tuilaepa says Samoa, like other Pacific nations, is already bearing the brunt of killer cyclones and unusually disastrous flooding.

TUILAEPA: The treats have already occurred of climate change and are increasing in severity. What if future cyclones would be similar to that mother of typhoons in the recent past. It would be total catastrophe for many of our Pacific island nations.

GARRETT: As well as making statements the conference aims to convince show the world why cuts are needed in greenhouse gas emissions and build practical partnerships to address climate change impacts.

Samoa's Prime Minister says he is grateful for the assistance already provided by Australia and New Zealand but it is not enough.

He is calling on the Abbott government to shift its focus from the budget to its friends in need in the Pacific.

TUILAEPA: We do hope Australia's leadership, current leadership could look at the Pacific Islands as a special case in terms of climate change. In saying that I am aware of the extreme pre-occupation of the present leadership with budget savings.

GARRETT: Tuilaepa says it is wrong of Australia to cut its aid to the Pacific.

A early move for the Conference statement to suggest amendments to the United Nations Refugee Convention to bring climate change refugees under its protection failed but Samoa's Prime Minister wants more access for Pacific Islanders to Australia under the existing seasonal labour scheme.

TUILAEPA:We will have a very small contingent for australia and what I am saying is I would like to see that extended. What I am saying is I would like to draw the attention to the small populations of the Pacific Islands. This is a special issue that should be taken note of because those people who deal with policies in your country tend to lump us together with the general employment policy which includes huge, populated countries like Indonesia and other countries with potential emigration into Australia.

GARRETT: Why is special action needed for the small island states?

TUILAEPA: I can give you a brief answer and that is Australia and New Zealand are members of the Pacific Islands Forum, and the membership there was especially important because being the biggest member countries in the only consolidated grouping of islands in the Pacific they should do more.

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