Small Pacific island nations are urging the Morrison government not to use so-called “carryover credits” in its bid to meet carbon emissions targets.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has taken aim directly at Australia, as the Pacific nations band together for much stronger action on climate change.
Late on Tuesday night, the countries signed a joint statement known as the Nadi Bay Declaration on the Climate Change Crisis in the Pacific.
Mr Bainimarama urged his neighbours to not let larger countries like Australia water down climate action at the Pacific Island Forum in Tuvalu next month.
“We should not accept anything less than concrete commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with the most ambitious aspirations of the Paris agreement,” he said.
“We cannot allow climate commitments to be watered down at a meeting hosted in a nation whose very existence is threatened by the rising waters lapping at its shores.”
Mr Bainimarama’s language was an explicit dig at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who was caught out joking about the impact of climate change on Pacific islands in 2015.
The then-immigration minister was picked up by an overhead microphone making a quip about “water lapping at your door”.
In their declaration, the nations expressed their “deep concern about the lack of comprehension, ambition, or commitment shown by developed nations” of the impending grave consequences of climate change.
“The science warns of the real possibility that coral atoll nations could become uninhabitable as early as 2030,” it read.
“By 2100, the coral atoll nations of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tokelau and the Maldives and many small island developing states could be submerged.”
The nations are also calling on all coal producers to immediately cease any new mining, and to develop a strategy for the phase-out and closure of all existing coal plants.
The declaration comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on countries to aim for net zero emissions by 2050.
Australia’s goals do not go that far, with the nation pledging to reduce emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris agreement.
“(We call) on relevant parties to the Kyoto Protocol to refrain from using ‘carryover credits’ as an abatement for the additional Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets,” the Pacific islands said.
Government projections show more than half the target can be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.
Government negotiators ensured the Kyoto agreement, which was ratified in 2007, allowed Australia to have net greenhouse gas emissions of 108 per cent of 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.
For Kyoto 2 – covering emissions from 2013 to 2020 – Australia pledged to cut greenhouse gas to 99.5 per cent of 1990 levels.
The group of islands includes Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Tokelau.