23 May 2019

Vanuatu PM pleased with NZ climate action

10:54 am on 23 May 2019

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai says he's pleased with New Zealand's new laws aimed at tackling climate change.

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai in New Zealand

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai in New Zealand Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

The government last month tabled a bill that would commit New Zealand to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Speaking after a meeting with his counterpart Jacinda Ardern in Wellington on Wednesday, Charlot Salwai said addressing the climate crisis is of great importance to the Pacific.

"It is a very important issue and we are so happy and welcome that the New Zealand prime minister is very supportive to this concern that has been raised by the Pacific Island countries because we are really affected.

"Smaller islands like Tuvalu and others [particularly] but Vanuatu as well is also affected by this climate change."

Charlot Salwai side-stepped a question on whether the return of a pro-fossil fuel government in Australia was disappointing.

China air services agreement top priority for Vanuatu PM

Mr Salwai also said signing an air service agreement with China was a top priority for his visit to Beijing next week.

Speaking following his meeting with Jacinda Ardern, Mr Salwai said he would also be discussing Vanuatu's future involvement in China's Belt and Road Initiative.

"So maybe some issues around how we can get support assistance to build our infrastructure in Vanuatu. When I say infrastructure, it's not only roads, it's not only wharfs, it's not only telecommunications infrastrcutrue...it's also health and education."

Charlot Salwai said while Vanuatu would prefer grants, it won't stop seeking loans from China to achieve its development goals.

He is meeting China's top leaders during a week-long official visit to the country next week.

China's foreign ministry says both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will meet with Mr Salwai.