Fiji PM: No Apologies To Australia For Criticism

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Regarding slow progress on climate change issues

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 30, 2015) – Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji will not apologise for criticising Australia's slow progress on cutting carbon emissions to fight climate change.

Speaking as chair at the 71st session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Session in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said there was much at stake for the Pacific Islands.

The theme for the meet is "Balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: from integration to implementation" but Mr Bainimarama chose to use his opening speech to address two main barriers to sustainable development in the Pacific - climate change and rising sea levels.

He acknowledged Fiji's challenges but referenced our Pacific Island neighbours - the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu - as some of the islands most at threat saying countries in the EU were better friends because of their efforts to cut carbon emissions.

"I have caused a certain amount of upset in official circles for saying that Australia and others are part of a coalition of the selfish.

"But I do not resile from this description when so much for us in the Pacific Islands is at stake.

"I have already remarked that the EU member countries are proving to be our true allies in this struggle and not some of our bigger neighbours," he said.

"Again, I make no apologies for this. Because we in the Pacific judge our friends not by their words but by their deeds."

Mr Bainimarama also challenged member States present at the session to put words to action and support Pacific nations at the World Climate Summit in Paris in six months' time.

"We can talk all we like about sustainable development. But the overwhelming imperative for us all must be a decisive global response to the greatest challenge of our age.

"And we must meet this collective test together or be judged extremely harshly by future generations."

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