8 Sep 2015

Small islands call for global moratorium on coal mines

7:13 am on 8 September 2015

Six small island nations vulnerable to climate change have called for a global moratorium on new coal mines.

The leaders of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu caught up on Monday before the wider 16 nation Pacific Island Forum leaders summit in Papua New Guinea later this week.

They issued a special declaration on climate change that demanded the world limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and that countries uphold the principle of polluter pays.

The agenda for the 46th summit of the Pacific Islands Forum includes climate change, information communication technology, fisheries and marine surveillance, cervical cancer and the situation in West Papua.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who leaves today for Port Moresby, says fisheries management is likely to be a significant issue for the leaders.

Mr Key says fisheries is a very large resource for Pacific nations and leaders are concerned about poaching and sustainability.

He says he expects climate change to be another important issue.

"I will be more than happy to talk about, from New Zealand's perspective, what we have done and what we are doing. I think a lot of people understand the makeup and profile of our emissions target but in recent years we have held the Energy Summit in New Zealand, around renewable energy. We have rolled out a lot of those projects around the Pacific, so we will be talking to leaders about how well that's working, the effectiveness of it."

Fiji has been allowed to attend the Forum for the first time since its suspension was lifted after elections last year.

The Fiji Times reports the Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola is attending in place of the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama who earlier refused the invitation because he is unhappy with New Zealand and Australia's membership of the body.

The body he set up three years ago, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, met last week and issued a strong statement on climate change.

The statement, the Suva Declaration demands temperature rise be kept to no more than 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels.

The Pacific Islands Forum is understood to have a higher target in mind and there has been talk about the impact of lobbying from New Zealand and Australia.

On the issue of West Papua, NGOs are calling for the Forum to set up a fact finding mission to look into allegations of human rights abuses there by the Indonesian security forces.