Big polluters China, the US and India will come in for criticism from small Pacific states threatened by climate change at the Pacific Islands Forum.
Those powerhouses are attending a post-forum dialogue on Friday in the Marshall Islands, where they’ll face off with the leaders of low-lying states, whose future could be underwater unless action is taken to stem rising seas and other climate-related impacts.
Pacific leaders on Thursday agreed to the Majuro Declaration, calling on forum members and others to take meaningful steps to address climate change, including boosting their carbon reduction targets.
The host of next year’s forum, Palau President Tommy Remengesau, says he plans to build on the momentum on climate change that the Marshall Islands has started.
“This is an issue of our very own survival, and our sustainability as a people, and as small island nations here,” he said.
On Friday, US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will hold one-on-one meetings with several leaders, but her reception from the host nation will be lukewarm, the Marshalls’ Foreign Affairs Minister Phillip Muller has indicated.
“We would have expected, if not (Secretary of State John) Kerry, somebody close to him,” he said, adding that Mr Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, attended last year’s forum in the Cook Islands.
“When you send a minister of the interior, that’s the person who manages the internal affairs of another country, and for us I think that’s really more than just a slap in the face.”
Along with pressure on the US to boost its climate change commitments, the Marshalls – a former US territory which endured dozens of nuclear tests 60 years ago – will also demand it live up to its obligations to Marshall Islanders still affected by resulting health issues, and settle the $US2 billion ($A2.19 billion) in compensation claims still outstanding.