Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed doubts about the impact of climate change in the Pacific in a recent summit, according to the former leader of Tuvalu – a nation which is threatened by rising sea levels this very moment.

On last night’s special edition of Q&A, hosted in Suva, Fiji, the panel was asked why the Australian government is not working harder to stem the worst effects of climate change.

Liberal MP Alex Hawke rolled out the go-to response about Australia’s commitment to its Paris targets, but he also did something unique: he referenced the fact the maximum elevation in the nation of Tuvalu is only a few metres above sea level.

That cognitive dissonance went unchecked as the question then rolled to Enele Sopoaga, who addressed Morrison’s comments at the August Pacific Island Forum.

In case you missed it, Australian delegates at the summit reportedly fought to soften the language of a region-wide commitment to fight climate change, despite the existential threat the issue poses to our Pacific neighbours.

Morrison was notable for “expressing views that completely denies there is climate change happening already in the Pacific,” Sopoaga said on Q&A.

“As chairman I was taken a little bit aback.”

When pressed by moderator Tony Jones on whether he meant comments Morrison made before or during the summit, Sopoaga said he was worried about “Previous remarks as well as in the forum.”

There was quite strong resistance on the call by Pacific island leaders for more complete works to reduce greenhouse gases, but particularly to cut down and stop opening up new coal mines in Australia.

That was one of the main concerns of the leaders. But in the end I think we came to compromise language. If you look at the communique, to saying ‘Just move, transition away from fossil fuels.’ I thought that was the best we could in order to save the communique and have a language declaration on climate change.

As always, solid leadership on display. Watch the clip below, or the full programme here.

Image: Q&A / ABC / Mick Tsikas / AAP Image