PACIFIC BRIEFS

Friday September 08, 2017 Written by Published in Regional

DATE PROPOSED FOR REFERENDUM   

NEW CALEDONIA – An anti-independence faction in New Caledonia says i

t wants to hold the referendum on independence on October 7th next year. Sonia Backes of the Caledonian Republicans said the date had been submitted for discussion in Congress. According to the Noumea Accord, Congress can set the referendum date if 60 per cent of members agree on it. Failing that, the French government will set a date for the vote which is to be held no later than in November 2018. Backes said all sorts of things are being bandied around and she fears moves are afoot to prevent New Caledonians from making a clear choice of either staying with France or opting for full sovereignty.

Fresh warning ON coral bleaching

PACIFIC – French researchers studying Pacific coral reefs have warned that limits proposed in the Paris Agreement won’t be enough to save them. The Tara Foundation and France’s National Center for Scientific Research have found that in some locations up to 90 per cent of coral has been bleached. In a statement, they said Samoa’s islands had been severely impacted but also Kiribati and Tuvalu where some coral had died off. The research mission, which has visited 15 countries, said on the other hand, the reefs in Wallis and Futuna had been largely spared. It found that the warmer the water has become the more likely reefs get stressed and bleached. Reefs account for 0.2 per cent of the ocean’s area but host about 30 per cent of the sea’s biodiversity.

CNMI islanders warned to ‘stay indoors’

NORTHERN MARIANAS – The Northern Marianas Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has told residents of the islands to seek shelter indoors in case of a nuclear attack. The office was monitoring the North Korea situation with the Guam Homeland Security Office of Civil Defense and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency. A spokesman said information between the three agencies was constantly shared. He said if worse came to worst, it would be best to stay indoors to prevent a fatal nuclear fallout following the initial blast. This was also assuming that the immediate blast area did not affect the CNMI. The CNMI is just 215 kilometres from Guam.” Meanwhile, New Caledonia’s international airline says if conflict breaks out on the Korean peninsula it will shift its flights to France to a route over the Indian Ocean.

AUSTRALIAN COAL PUTS PACIFIC AT RISK 

TUVALU – The Tuvalu Climate Action Network is condemning Australia for its continued promotion of the coal industry. The group is among civil society groups which have gathered in Apia for the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting. The network’s Maina Talia said, as Pacific countries head to COP23 in November, they cannot turn a blind eye to Australia’s status as the world’s largest exporter of the dirtiest form of fossil fuel. Talia said Australia was the largest and richest of the Forum countries and its position on coal weakens the Pacific’s ambitions for a strong stance on climate change. “Because when we talk about climate change we cannot turn a blind eye to justice. And it is a matter of justice when we are facing this very critical moment for the Pacific and especially low-lying atolls,” he said.

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