The Australian government was last week unable to deny blocking calls from Pacific Island nations for Australia to substantially increase its target for a reduction in carbon emissions.
In a question to the government's Minister for Climate Change, the Greens Senator asked:
"Given the consistent and outspoken calls from Pacific Island nations for a 45 per cent below 1990 level reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries by 2020, why was that not reflected in the outputs from [the recent Pacific Islands Forum and the Smaller Island States Group] meetings held in Australia?"
The Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, claimed the government was attempting to find a consensus among the Pacific Island nations, but failed to explain why the calls for serious emissions reductions targets went unheard.
Senator Milne said it was "very clear from the minister's answer that Australia blocked the Pacific from including a higher 2020 target."
The government's announcement of a $50 million funding package for climate change adaptation in the Pacific led Senator Milne to ask if "these countries [were] given to understand that financial support would only flow in the absence of criticism of Australia's weak targets?"
"We are burying our head in the sand if we think that Australia can get away with insulting the rest of the developing world by saying, ‘We will only do five per cent, and 25 per cent conditional, and the rest of you can just do what you like."
"Once Australia adopts very weak targets, it will go to Copenhagen and it will undermine the rest of the world seeking higher and more ambitious targets. That is precisely what happened with the Pacific Islands Forum."
Senator Milne called on Pacific Island countries to stand up to Australia in global negotiations and not allow the green washing of Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Wong to go unexposed.