By: Jane Lee and Lisa Martin
Sydney Morning Herald
Five island nations vulnerable to climate change have joined calls for a global moratorium on new coalmines.
Leaders from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu demanded the world limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and that countries uphold the principle of polluter pays.
The declaration on climate change came ahead of a broader 16-nation Pacific Island Forum leaders summit and retreat which includes Australia and New Zealand later this week.
It follows a letter from Anote Tong, the president of the Republic of Kiribati, to world leaders last month calling for a stop to the development of all new coalmines. President Tong said that this was "an essential initial step on our collective global action against climate change" and necessary for countries like his that face "a very uncertain future".
The island nation is under threat from rising sea levels and changing weather patterns due to global warming.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in announcing Australia's new climate targets last month, said the government's policies were "the only way to protect the coal industry".
Mr Abbott has also declared "coal is good for humanity" and decried the overturning of an environmental approval for Australia's largest coalmine – the Carmichael mine in Queensland.