July 18, 2019 / 10:54 AM / a month ago

New Zealand's Ardern says plight of Pacific Islanders should spur climate action

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at the Istana in Singapore, May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Climate change is having a real impact on Pacific islanders and that should spur countries to greater action to tackle the problem, New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

Ardern, speaking at a civil society conference in Australia, said she hoped that climate change was an area where her government could leave a lasting impact.

“We run the risk that climate change can feel like something that is happening to someone else but if you visit Kiribati or you visit Tuvalu, this is real, this is not a hypothetical,” she said.

“The changes that they are seeing in their environment are happening now. So I’d hope, when confronted by that, that might motivate the change we need. It’s going to take country-by-country action ... and it’s going to take civil society to keep pushing for it.”

Ardern wants to see New Zealand become carbon neutral by 2025 and to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Robert Birsel

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