Politics

Jacinda Ardern Says Australia “Will Have To Answer To The Pacific” On Climate Change

Meanwhile, Australian officials don't even want to acknowledge there's a problem.

Jacinda Ardern Christchurch

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told reporters Australia will have to answer to its neighbours in the Pacific on the issue of climate change, as the Morrison government resists pressure to reduce Australia’s reliance on coal.

Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, Ardern said New Zealand would “do its bit” to help prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celcius, and said her country had the expectation that “everyone else will as well”.

“Every single little bit matters,” she said. “Ultimately we all have to take responsibility for ourselves.”

Ardern stopped short of calling on Australia to rapidly transition from a coal-based economy as a number of Pacific nations have done, saying instead that “Australia has to answer to the Pacific. That is a matter for them”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters at the forum that Australia was “going to show up for the hard conversations, the good conversations, the family conversations that we have, and that’s very much the spirit in which we’re engaging”.

Of course, that sentiment was undercut by reports that Australian officials succeeded in watering down the language in the official communique, removing references to a climate change “crisis” and replacing a call to endorse a UN push for no new coal mines with one asking leaders to “reflect on” the proposal. In fact, according to The Guardian, Australia managed to remove every instance, bar one, of the word “coal” from the communique altogether.

So yeah, don’t get your hopes up, Jacinda.