Samoa Prime Minister: Denial of climate change is stupid
Tourism is Samoa's largest industry, and the country welcomes 115,000 international tourists per year, and climate change is causing concern.
Tourism is Samoa’s largest industry, and the country welcomes 115,000 international tourists per year. Approximately 35 percent of visitors come from New Zealand, 25 percent from American Samoa and other Pacific countries, 20 percent from Australia, and 8 percent from the US. Samoa is located in the Pacific Ocean approximately halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.
Rising sea levels and erosion are threatening low-lying communities in the South Pacific. Some small islands have already disappeared in what many islanders consider the first signs that climate change has the power to overwhelm vulnerable areas.
One of the South Pacific’s longest serving leaders, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele, told a meeting in Australia that climate change is an “existential threat” to island nations and that any world leader who denies climate change exists should be taken to a psychiatric facility.
Speaking at the Lowy Institute, an independent think-tank in Sydney, Sailele urged Australia to make deeper cuts to its carbon emissions to help protect Pacific island nations. Australia is still highly dependent on coal for power generation and has some of the world’s highest per capita levels of greenhouse gas pollution.
“We all know the solutions, and all that is left would be some political courage, some political guts, and any leader of those countries who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to a mental confinement,” Sailele said. “He is utter(ly) stupid.”
The long-serving Samoan leader also said that Australia’s attitudes toward the South Pacific have been patronizing, and he said that despite China’s growing diplomatic and commercial influence, the independence and autonomy of regional states should be respected.