The Commonwealth has left the door open for future agreements with Pacific nations after signing a landmark deal with Tuvalu last week.
Last week’s deal will see 280 climate refugees moving to Australia on special visas per year, as rising sea levels slowly submerge the Island.
Tuvalu is on the frontline of the climate crisis with 95 per cent of the country expected to be inhabitable within 80 years.
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has told the ABC on Sunday, Australia is open to working with other Pacific nations as well.
“The offer is there from Australia, I think what that says is we’re prepared to be a real partner of choice, an engaged partner, but obviously, it’s up to those countries.
What (the Tuvalu agreement) does signal is how we are prepared to approach our membership of the Pacific family.”
There are rumours that Nauru and Kiribati will propose similar deals as both nations face similar pressure from rising sea levels.
But Kiribati President Taneti Maamau has told the ABC he is reluctant to sign a similar agreement.
“We have our own strategies and our own initiatives.
Australia hasn’t approached us on that.
I think we have our own way of doing things.”
Meanwhile the UN’s special Envoy on Climate Mobility, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, has Welcolmed the agreement but stressed the importance of cutting carbon emissions in order to prevent sea levels from rising further.
“We congratulate both the leaders of Tuvalu and Australia for this treaty because it’s recognising your current situation and the need to have options for people, to protect people’s rights all across the region,” he said.
“But… we should continue all efforts necessary to phase down the usage of fossil fuels, because that’s actually the existential threat that the Pacific Islands are facing.”
“The first right to protect, is the right to stay.”
While the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network’s regional coordinator, Lavetanalagi Seru has told the Guardian the agreement is ignoring the real issues of the climate crisis.
“[The deal is] a mere Band-Aid solution that in no way adequately addresses the fossil-fuelled climate crisis.”
Last year the federal government handed $11 billion to the fossil fuel industry.
Former Kiribati President Anote Tong, says Australia’s carbon footprint is having an impact on Pacific nations.
“All the fuel that is burnt, the emissions don’t remain in Australia, they don’t remain in the United States, they don’t remain in China.
They go everywhere and impact the whole global climate.”
Image Credit AAP/Ben McKay