A question on the debate during Australia’s election campaign about climate change was posed to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres at a press conference in Suva this week.
Guterres replied,” “If I have learned something in more than 20 years of political life is that foreigners should not get involved in electoral debates in other countries, so I do not intend to get involved in the national debate of Australia.”
Tuilaepa, who has been vocal about the effects of climate change in the Pacific, gave his own answer.
“I think we should not worry too much about it. The question will be answered by the voters themselves. Let us just keep our fingers crossed.”
Tuilaepa also said a lot of people think that the issue of climate change is a question that affects only the Pacific islands the small islands.
“What we are trying to tell the world is that when we go down, all the cities of the world will go down too because most, I think 99% of the cities of the world are located on the coastline. So we are arguing also for the safety of the people of the world. It’s just that because we are at the forefront we seem to be accused, as talking too much about the risk that will impact us all on the whole humanity and the language that was spoken when we had a lot of meetings at the national fora we had to say planet earth.”
The Guardian reports that climate change has become a key issue in the Australian federal election, with the opposition Labor party saying the difference between the two parties’ policies on the subject was “perhaps above all others … night and day, black and white”.
Labor has committed to a target of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030, whereas the Coalition, which has suffered brutal infighting over climate change policy in recent years, is pushing for a “climate solutions” fund that pays polluters to lower their emissions, with the aim of meeting Paris commitments of lowering emissions by 28%.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also says that despite Australia’s emissions rising over the past five years, the country is on track to meet its targets under the Paris Agreement “in a canter”.
Tuilaepa has in the past urged Australia to make deeper cuts to its carbon emissions to help protect Pacific island nations.
Australia is still highly dependent on coal for power generation and has some of the world’s highest per capita levels of greenhouse gas pollution.
Photo Loop Samoa; Caption: Samoa PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi at the press conference in Suva