Australia’s delegation at the ongoing Pacific Islands Forum has reportedly succeeded in nixing all but one mention of coal from the forum’s joint statement on climate change, and is apparently working on deleting all mention of the government’s favourite carboniferous rock.

Citing sources with knowledge of the discussions, The Guardian reports that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Aussie representatives in Tuvalu have tried to soften the language used to describe coal, despite other Pacific nations calling for an immediate ban on the construction of new coal power plants in the region.

The document, intended as a template on which Pacific nations can base their policies regarding climate change, might undergo other significant linguistic changes: Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told the paper the phrase “climate change crisis” would probably be amended to “climate change reality” in its final version, effectively watering down its impact.

Earlier, The Guardian reported Australia was working to omit a hard timeframe for rolling back the use of coal power in the statement.

The statement is still being negotiated.

The summit in Funafuti comes at a crucially important moment for many of the Pacific nations represented. Rising sea levels, changing ocean chemistry, and coastal erosion have threatened the liveability of Tuvalu itself.

International dignitaries were even welcomed to the summit by children sitting in a man-made moat to symbolise rising tides.

This week, Morrison offered an extra $500 million in aid directed at mitigating the worst impacts of climate change in the region, but it’s hard to square that funding with Australia’s own stance on renewable energy – and the fact Australia is now jostling with China for regional influence.

Of course, Australia is now led by a dude who once stood next to current Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton while he joked about water lapping at the door of Pacific nations. So.

Source: The Guardian
Image: Mick Tsikas / AAP Images