CANBERRA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to commit Australia to a Pacific climate change pledge.
Morrison on Thursday night declared he was accountable to the Australian people after holding his ground against Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand PM, and the leaders of Pacific nations who joined forces to agree to phase out coal in the region.
Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu debated the issue for 12 hours on Thursday but were unable to secure a pledge from Morrison to end coal mining and go carbon neutral by 2050.
"I am accountable to the Australian people, that is who I am accountable for and Australia comes here, I think, with a very strong record," Morrison told reporters after the meeting, assuring that his Pacific step-up was "looking great."
Morrison's positivity out of the meeting was not shared by Enele Sopoaga, the PM of Tuvalu and chairman of the forum, who suggested there were major disagreements during the summit.
"Australia is an important partner in the Forum, and Australia is an important part of the Forum family, likewise everybody else... We tried our best," he said.
"I think we can say we should have done more work for our people."
Ardern, who was praised by Sopoaga for being constructive, also spoke out against Morrison, saying that as the biggest country in the region Australia "has to answer to the Pacific" on climate change.
Morrison's predecessor Malcolm Turnbull used social media to urge Australia to make significant climate change commitments.
"When I announced Australia's Pacific step up in 2016 climate action was a key priority," he wrote.
"It may be political for some, but it's existential in the Pacific."