The Pacific foreign ministers have declared a climate emergency in the region. This was one of the key outcomes of the forum foreign ministers held on 8 July 2022.
The declaration includes key collective decisions including a declaration that the Pacific was facing a climate emergency that threatens the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of its people and ecosystems.
Led by Vanuatu’s foreigh minister, the foreign ministers also endorsed a recommendation for Forum Leaders to call on the United Nations’ General Assembly for a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the obligations of states under international law, to protect the rights of present and future generations against climate change impacts.
Both the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attended the Forum.
At a press meeting streamed live by the ABC on 12 July 2022, Penny Wong avoided answering the question by a journalist who asked whether this would mean that the Australian government would now stop any new coal mines or gas reserves being exploited and utilised. “You know what our position is,” Ms Wong replied.
Dr Wesley Morgan, Climate Council Senior Researcher and climate diplomacy expert who was in Fiji for the Pacific Islands Forum, said: “This is an important and welcome step to resetting Australia’s relations with the Pacific. It will be crucial for the new Australian Government to back up this Climate Emergency declaration with meaningful action. That means, ending Australia’s love affair with coal and gas as quickly as possible, and committing to ending public funding for fossil fuel projects.”
The 51st Pacific Islands Forum took place in Suva, Fiji, from 11-14 July 2022 and is the most important annual political meeting for the Pacific region.
The Forum’s 17 members’ exclusive economic zones are spread over 30 million square kilometres of ocean – providing half of the world’s tuna, the most commonly eaten fish. Nations are also feeling some of the severe effects of climate change as rising seas inundate low-lying areas.
“Forum Foreign Ministers agreed for Leaders to issue the following decisions in their Communique to declare that the Pacific is facing a Climate Emergency that threatens the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of its people and ecosystems, backed by the latest science and the daily lived realities in Pacific communities.”
~ Excerpt from the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2022 Foreign Ministers Meeting Outcomes
→ Pacific Islands Forum – 10 July 2022:
MEDIA RELEASE: Pacific Foreign Ministers declare a climate emergency
→ Fiji Sun – 12 July 2022:
Pacific Foreign Ministers Declare Climate Emergency
“The region will once again be led by Political Climate Champions, including a new Champion on Gender and Social Inclusion.”
→ The Australian Greens – 12 July 2022:
As Pacific Leaders declare climate emergency, Australia must stop new coal & gas
“Australia must walk the talk on climate commitments in the Pacific this week by stopping new coal and gas projects, the Greens have warned, after details of a Communique agreed to by Australia indicate commitments that are undermined by Australia’s actions.”