Australian coal is sinking our Pacific islands

Coal burning power station. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and a major conributor to climate change. File photo/Pixabay

Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, is actively trying to undermine the Pacific islands by continuing to promote coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that are driving the world’s warming climate. 

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepares to meet with his island counterparts this week in Apia, Samoa, Pacific civil society groups say Australia’s promotion of coal puts their communities at risk.

Pacific island countries, including some of the world’s most vulnerable low-lying islands, are demanding greater ambition to tackle climate change and renewed political commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Vanuatu flag flies at a 2014 blockade of Australian coal export port Newcastle by Pacific islanders campaigning against climate change. Photo: 350.org

The Vanuatu flag flies at a 2014 blockade of Australian coal export port Newcastle by Pacific islanders campaigning against climate change. Photo: 350.org

On Thursday, Pacific Islands Forum leaders will consider a ‘united’ Pacific voice to take to the COP23 climate negotiations in November.  At those talks – to be held in Bonn, Germany – the world’s eyes will be on the Pacific as Fiji takes over as president of the UN climate negotiations, the first time a small island developing state has held this important role.

However, members of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) say there is a low probability of an authentic ‘united’ Pacific voice being forged in Apia, with Australia’s presence and economic interests being historically responsible for watering-down regional climate declarations.

Australia’s continued promotion of coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that are driving the world’s warming climate — jeopardises negotiation outcomes, and ultimately the safety of the entire Pacific region.

Maina Talia, from the Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN), said Pacific island leaders Read the rest of this entry »

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CCECC says gravel is destined for African projects: Biosecurity Vanuatu wants it gone by weekend

aggregate Vanuatu

The China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) has responded to a story run in Daily Post this week concerning the possibility of foot-and-mouth disease being brought into the country on the aggregate material CCECC planned to use for the Bauerfield runway extensions. The company claims there are no sinister motives behind their decision to Read the rest of this entry »


Shipload of potentially contaminated Chinese gravel banned from entering Vanuatu

File image of asphalt being laid over aggregate. Photo: US Govt

File image of asphalt being laid over aggregate to build a runway. Photo: US Govt

A ship carrying aggregate gravel for the runway extensions at Bauerfield has been blocked from unloading because of the biologically unsafe status of gravel from its country of origin, China. The company responsible for the shipment, the giant China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), was advised of the countries from which such material could be easily obtained when their successful bid was announced—Fiji, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. China is blacklisted for the supply of gravel because it has foot and mouth disease. If foot and mouth disease arrived here, it would quickly destroy Vanuatu’s valuable beef export industry. The pork industry would also be affected. The Director of Biosecurity, Timothy Tumukon, has advised the aggregate material cannot be unloaded here. The Council of Ministers agrees. The ship is moored in Mele Bay. It will unload equipment needed on the runway project starting Thursday. However, the aggregate must remain on board. (Daily Post)

Australia’s newly appointed Ambassador for the Environment, Patrick Suckling, is presently in Port Vila on a familiarisation visit. He is responsible for Australia’s diplomacy around Read the rest of this entry »


Vanuatu committed to meeting climate change commitments, President tells visiting Parliamentarians

President Moses has registered his strong commitment and that of the Government of Vanuatu to the ACP and EU to carry out the work required to fulfill the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He gave the promise at the ACP/EU meeting that has been taking place this week in Port Vila. A large contingent of visitors has been in the capital for the 14th regional meeting of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific/European Union (ACP/EU) Parliamentary Assembly. A total of 66 delegates are attending, including the Co-President of the ACP, Ibrahim Rassin Bundu, and acting Co-President of the EU, Cecil Kashetu Kyenge. Sites visited included the Wind Farm project funded by the European Investment Bank and the Roi Mata Compound at Mangaliliu in the World Heritage area. The ACP Group’s main objectives are sustainable development and poverty reduction within the member states, as well as greater integration into the world’s economy.

Vanuatu is the first Pacific Island country to Read the rest of this entry »


National week of mourning declared to mark the passing of President Lonsdale

President Baldwin Lonsdale

The late President Father Baldwin Lonsdale

A National Week of Mourning has been declared from the 17th until the 26th of June following the sudden and unexpected death of Head of State Fr Baldwin Lonsdale. Details for his State Funeral have now been released. A public holiday has been declared for Wednesday 21st June. The President’s body will lie in state at State House on Monday and Tuesday and there is a program for institutions and organisations to visit and share their condolences. On Wednesday morning, the church funeral service will be held at Parliament House and at midday on Wednesday the President’s body will leave Port Vila and be flown to Read the rest of this entry »


Drones planned to deliver vital medical supplies to remote islands

A new project will enable remote areas to receive urgently needed medical supplies by drone, the remote controlled pilotless aircraft. UNICEF is working with Government to make the project a reality for the small island developing countries. A previous trial in Malawi in Africa has already proven successful and the approach is now being trialled in Vanuatu.

President Lonsdale has spoken out on the international stage for much stronger action against climate change. Pres. Lonsdale, speaking as the leader of a small island developing state (SIDS), says “climate change is real and devastating my nation. As a long-time leader at the national level, I can confirm that Read the rest of this entry »


Two years on from Cyclone Pam, local band DropVkal Family sends musical message – climate change is ‘Dangerous’

Vanuatu band DropVkal Family is known for its incisive social messages as much as it is for its hard-edged roots-rock-reggae fusion sound – and their latest track, ‘Dangerous’, released to mark the second anniversary of Cyclone Pam, is no exception.

The band’s musical vision is to promote vernacular languages and give an alternative to the mainstream reggae sound popular in Vanuatu. They perform regularly at bars and restaurants around Port Vila, playing Saturday nights at the Saloon Bar, and Sunday afternoons at the Beach Bar at Mele. They are also available to play special events.

“We’re a group of friends from different islands of Vanuatu that have come together because of our love of music, and our interest in contributing to the development of Vanuatu and its special local culture”, says Read the rest of this entry »