The Samoan prime minister attacks & # 039; completely stupid & # 039; climate change deniers

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi (Middle)

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele has attacked those who deny climate change as "totally stupid" and urged Australia to reduce its carbon emissions.

Mr. Sailele, speaking during a visit to the Lowy Institute, a foreign policy think tank in Sydney, said that climate change was a "disaster" that threatened Pacific Island nations.

"We all know the problem, we all know the solutions, and all that remains is some political courage, some political guts to tell the people of your country that there is a certainty of disaster," Sailele told the crowd.

"So, any leader from any country that believes there is no climate change, I think I should be mentally confined, it's totally stupid, and I say the same thing to any leader here."

His speech comes as conservatives increase pressure on new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to increase investment in coal and gas and reduce commitment to Paris targets to reduce emissions.

Mr. Morrison has also been criticized for omitting the meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum leader next week in Nauru.

Criticism of China loans & # 39; patronizing & # 39;

Samoa's prime minister also pointed to countries for sponsoring Pacific island nations with his concern over debt problems and criticism of China's growing lending in the region.

China has spent $ 1.3 billion on soft loans and gifts since 2011 to become the second largest donor in the Pacific after Australia, fueling concern in the West that several small nations could end up overburdened and indebted to China.

He said that China was not to blame.

"We should not accuse the lender itself," Malielegaoi told Reuters in an interview when asked about the region's growing debt to China.

"It's up to the country to make sure it sets the guidelines for borrowing," he said. "The only reason why countries have not been able to pay is because they did not have adequate financial strategies."

China has said it is supporting development in a region where it is needed.

But the issue of debt has become a major concern since China took possession of a port in Sri Lanka while Colombo struggled to pay its debts.

Australia in particular, which has long viewed the Pacific as its backyard, has criticized some Chinese aid projects, and a former foreign minister has warned that the loans could undermine the long-term sovereignty of the recipients.

Malielegaoi said the unidentified "traditional" partners had "left the neighborhood, even if only momentarily" and returned to find the most disputed region.

"Our partners have not recognized the integrity of the Pacific leadership and the responsibility they have with every decision made to obtain support for sustainable development in their nations," he said.

"Some might say that there is a condescending nuance in believing that the Pacific nations did not know what they were doing."

A Reuters analysis of the financial books of 11 South Pacific island nations shows that China is the region's largest bilateral lender, with loans that jump from almost zero to more than $ 1.3 billion in circulation in a decade.

Samoa is one of the eight island nations in the South Pacific, which owes a significant debt to China, but Malielegaoi said the terms were "soft" and the reimbursements "never a problem".