Fiji’s Minister for Defence told security summit that “the single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change.”

Fiji has told an Asian security summit that climate change is a bigger threat to the Pacific than military tensions.

“In our blue Pacific continent, machine guns, fighter jets, grey ships and green battalions are not our primary security concern.

“The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change. It threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity. Human-induced, devastating climate change,” said Inia Seruiratu, Fiji’s Minister for Defence, at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security meeting

He was addressing a summit in Singapore which has focused on China-U.S tensions and the Ukraine war.

Cyclones have repeatedly battered Fiji and other low-lying Pacific countries.

Floods in Fiji caused by tropic cyclones have displaced thousands of people in recent years and wrought economic havoc.

Pacific states have urged advanced industrialised nations to do more to combat climate change.

“Waves are crashing at our doorsteps, winds are battering our homes, we are being assaulted by this enemy from many angles,” Seruiratu told delegates.

The world is now about 1.2C warmer than it was in the 19th Century – the result of humans burning fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2).

But much attention has focused on China’s growing challenge to Western strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pacific islands became a focus of regional tensions this year after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April, alarming the United States, Australia and New Zealand, who fear a stepped-up military presence by Beijing in the Pacific.

Beijing has said that it is not establishing a military base in the Solomon Islands and that its goal is to strengthen security cooperation with Pacific island nations.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi conducted a tour of the Pacific islands last month in the hope of securing a sweeping regional trade and security pact, but the island nations were unable to reach a consensus on a deal.

Seruiratu played down concerns about a battle for influence in the Pacific islands while highlighting his country’s willingness to work with a range of countries.

“In Fiji, we are not threatened by geopolitical competition,” Seruiratu said in his speech.

“We have to adapt how we work and who we work with to achieve stability,” he said.

This story was originally published at BBC News on 13 June 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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