ruddAustralia has been accused of watering down demands for radical action at the Pacific Islands States conference, that has just finished in Cairns, Australia.

At the start of the conference the Pacific Island states were demanding a 45 per cent cut by 2020 and 85 per cent by 2050.

The call came from the seven smallest island nations who are part of the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum. They expressed concern at the “serious and growing threat posed by climate change to the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being and security” of their populations.

As the low-lying Pacific Islands are on the front-line of rising sea levels, it is completely commonsensical that they should be demanding radical action about a problem not of their making.

The Conference had been opened by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who said climate change was “the great challenge of our time.” He pledged that Australia would argue “forcefully” for deep cuts at the Copenhagen conference.

However come the end of the conference these demands had been watered down with all targets of 2020 removed.

The weak communiqué read: “With 122 days to go, the international community is not on track to achieve the outcome we need unless we see a renewed mandate across all participating nations”.

This has led Greenpeace to severely criticise Kevin Rudd for forcing the Pacific Islanders to “buckle” to political pressure to sign a climate agreement “that is devoid of substance”.

Greenpeace political adviser, Seni Nabou said “Kevin Rudd has chosen big polluters over the very survival of Pacific Islands”.  He called the agreement a “disaster for the Pacific”.

Nabou said: “The Forum Communiqué comes as a slap in the face for the Pacific leaders who went into the PIF calling for 45 per cent cuts in greenhouse pollution by 2020. Today they leave agreeing to 50 per cent cuts by 2050. They went in with a strong position that global warming needs to be kept below 1.5 degrees, and finished up agreeing to 2 degrees.

“Pacific Island leaders made it clear they need urgent, deep emissions cuts. Instead they got platitudes and handouts to build higher sea walls against the rising tides caused by Australian coal.”