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Has China brought the silence of Pacific leaders on climate change?

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 22 October 2021

In recent days Pacific Island Leaders have stepped up their campaign for both action on climate change and for compensation for its alleged impact on their environments and economies.

While the "developed world" has generally been the target, a number of Island leaders have specifically targeted Australia, demanding the Prime Minister attend the Glasgow Climate Summit, end the production of electricity from coal fired power stations and end coal exports. One assumes they add to that cutting gas production and LNG exports as well.

The PNG Prime Minister, James Marape, has even demanded developed countries apologise for the impact of global warming on Pacific communities. Significantly, he did not name Australia directly (unlike other Pacific leaders) because his government is seeking yet another cash handout from the Australian Government.


What is significant about the statements by Pacific leaders, both collectively as Pacific Islands Forum Members and individually is that China has not been criticised despite incontrovertible evidence China is easily the greatest contributor to rising emission levels.

In this contribution I want to delve into why Pacific Leaders are frankly adopting double standards on the whole climate change issue, and even on its impact on their environment.

China contributes around 28 per cent of all emissions. Australia's contribution is just one per cent.

You would be entitled to think that Pacific leaders, so concerned about the issue, would be targeting China even more than they are targeting Australia, and other "developed" nations such as the United States.

There has been a deafening silence not only on China's rising emission levels, but also on the apparent decision by President Xi not to attend the Glasgow Summit.

Before I outline why I believe this double standard is happening, I want t raise one environmental issue our closest neighbours – Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – must address if they want to be taken seriously on the climate change issue.


There can be no question that the extensive destruction of tropical rainforests is harmful to the environment, and especially when the destruction is illegal, and unchecked; and when local communities and the national government are not paid royalties and taxes.

In both Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands the legal and illegal destruction of pristine tropical rainforests is rampant. There is almost no downstream processing of logs in either country.

And what is the destination of these high value unprocessed logs?

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu – Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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