A group of former Pacific leaders, including former Presidents of Tuvalu, Kiribati, Palau and the Marshall Islands, have released a statement confirming that climate change is the primary security threat facing Pacific Island States. The statement released by the Pacific Elders’ Voice group comes after former Australian defence and security leaders called on Australia’s political leaders to put climate and security concerns at the centre of Pacific policy in order to regain trust in the region.

Former Defence Force Chief Admiral Chris Barrie (ret’d) said Australia’s political leaders must now immediately shift their focus onto the security threats posed by climate change in the Pacific. “For days our national debate has been consumed by concerns over China’s growing influence in the Pacific, but now we’ve heard directly from former Pacific Presidents that climate change is their primary security concern,” Barrie said. “In response, our political leaders must immediately shift their focus away from blustering scare campaigns and onto dealing with the greatest security threat we all face, which is climate change, if we are to restore our relationship with our closest neighbours.”

The Pacific Elders’ Voice statement says: “The growing military tension in the Pacific region created by both China and the United States and its allies, including Australia, does little to address the real threat to the region caused by climate change. These nations have done very little to address their own greenhouse gas emissions, despite statements of intent by the nations. Little has been done to address the impacts of climate change in the Pacific caused by their respective greenhouse gas emissions. Adequate funding for loss and damage caused by climate change needs to be addressed by Australia, China and the US in their engagement with the Pacific.”

Read the Pacific Elders’ Voice full statement here.

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  1. The Polynesians reached New Zealand and other western Pacific Islands about 7-800 years ago. That was at the beginning of The Little or Mini Ice Age when Sea Levels dropped as ice accumulated at the poles. As their population grew these very able seaman spread out across the region and settled on low lying islands. The Little Ice Age is generally agreed to have ended about 1880 – the Thames River stopped freezing over about then – and the World has been warming up to the same temperatures observed about 1000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period, when Viking settlers found trees in Greenland from which they used to build houses, but few if any trees for construction grow there now. The Sea levels rises they are seeing is largely due to the Earth returning to the same conditions that existed before they reached the South Pacific. Polynesians could revert to some of the higher volcanic islands but they have to realize they chose the wrong time in the Earth’s long term climate change patterns to settle on low lying islands.

    • You are of course entitled to that view, which is not supported by much science. When you write “it is generally agreed that the Little Ice Age ended in 1880” I don’t know who mean generally agrees with this view, other than climate change deniers and sceptics. What is generally agreed is that the Industrial Revolution was in full swing by 1850 and even back then there were plenty of scientists speculating about the effects of pouring so much carbon back into the air by burning coal.

      I venture to suggest that what is also generally agreed is that – lacking a time machine – all of the people of the Pacific Islands (not just Polynesians) have to deal with circumstances today and not what they might or might not have been 1000 years ago.


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