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AFP
August 17, 2019

Tears and shouting as Australia dilutes Pacific climate warning

World

AFP
August 17, 2019

WELLINGTON: A Pacific summit has descended into tears, recriminations and shouting between pro-coal Australia and low-lying island nations facing an existential threat from climate change.

The annual Pacific Island Forum wrapped up in Tuvalu late on Thursday with Australia and the group’s 17 other members sharply at odds, potentially undermining Canberra’s efforts to curb China’s growing influence in the region.

"There were serious arguments and even shouting, crying, people, leaders were shedding tears," Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told Australia’s national broadcaster ABC after the summit broke up with a communique with "watered down" language on global warming.

The group had gathered in Funafuti hoping to issue a compelling global call to action from nations on the frontline of climate change ahead of UN talks in New York next month. But Sopoaga conceded that a climate statement and communique released in the early hours of Friday morning after 12 hours of tense negotiations fell short of expectations.

"I think we can say we should’ve done more work for our people," he told reporters. The joint statements refer to a climate crisis and reiterate previous warnings that global warming is the most serious threat facing the Pacific. "The time to act is now," the leaders said.

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