Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has said Australia must do more to address the threat of climate change, indicating that the upcoming Cop26 Glasgow climate summit could be a point of “no return” for Pacific nations.
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who was recently elected as Samoa’s first female prime minister, said more ambitious action was needed from Australia, a country that has still not signed up to a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
“We need to push for cutting emissions in half by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century,” Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said at a discussion hosted by The Australia Institute.
“I don’t have an exact number of a level of reduction that we would ask with the Australians.
“Mr Morrison would not like me for giving these answers, but this is not new to him. The Pacific position has always been very clear.”
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said all major emitters needed to urgently commit to stronger climate action, and the international climate summit in Glasgow, scheduled for November, could be “the point of no return”. She said Pacific nations would experience the worst of climate disasters in the future.
The Samoan prime minister also said Australia should re-join the Green Climate Fund, a fund designed for developed countries to contribute funding to help smaller, developing countries deal with climate change impacts.
Fiame was clear that countries should not use COVID-19 as an excuse to delay global climate action.
“The development of COVID-19 vaccines was the fastest in history. Its rollout around the world, at large scale, required a massive global coordinated effort,” she said.
“I often ponder how we can push for this historical, united, urgent global response at the same massive scale to help us reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius promise of the Paris agreement.”
This week, Scott Morrison downplayed the need to attend the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow, claiming he needed to focus on COVID-19 related issues, and it would mean he would have to spend another fourteen days in quarantine. He also said he needed to explain what’s “we’re doing on this issue” to Australians first.
Fiame did not indicate whether she thought Morrison should go to the summit and said some leaders from the Pacific would not be able to go, due to issues with quarantine restrictions and accessing commercial flights.
“We, ourselves, are finding it very difficult to make our way to Glasgow and even more challenging on the way back,” she said.