Pacific leaders sign Boe Declaration, calling climate change the single greatest threat to region

The signing of a declaration calling climate change the "single greatest threat" to the Pacific region must be followed up with real action on emissions, environmental groups say.

Leaders capped off the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum on Wednesday by signing a "Boe Declaration", expanding on security themes to include the environment, cybercrime and transnational crime.

As was widely expected, the forum communique said climate change presented "the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and well-being of Pacific people" and underscored the need for "immediate urgent action".

The issue of refugees is dominating the Prime Minister’s visit. Source: 1 NEWS

Leaders also called on large emitters to fully implement national emissions mitigation targets and for the United States to return to the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change.

The focus on climate change recognises concerns that have been the key priority for Pacific leaders at the annual meeting.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the Boe Declaration the most significant statement on the region's security in a generation.

"[It] acknowledges additional collective actions are required to address new and non-traditional challenges," she said.

"Modern-day regional security challenges include climate change, cybercrime and transnational crime."

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the signing of the declaration was an important recognition of the issue by the new Morrison government but needed to be followed up with policy.

"This international commitment by our nation must be matched by domestic action," ACF chief Kelly O'Shanassy said.

"Australia's climate pollution is rising, and we have observed another collapse of domestic policy to cut emissions from electricity generation."

Ahead of the forum, Australian ministers tried to ease concerns among Pacific leaders about its seriousness on climate change, saying the government was still committed to its reduction targets despite the recent collapse of its planned emissions legislation.

"There's no doubt the Pacific islands would have a dim view of Australia reducing its commitment to climate change measures - reducing our emissions footprint," Defence Minister Christopher Pyne told Sky News.

"But we have no plans to do so."

As part of the broader security declaration on Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne also announced the establishment of a Pacific centre to assist authorities in collating information to combat illegal fishing, people smuggling and narcotics trafficking.

The song called Jacinda New Star in the Sky clearly delighted the Prime Minister. Source: 1 NEWS



Britain can flourish even without Brexit deal, says UK's Foreign Secretary

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the UK will flourish with or without an agreement on its relationship with the European Union after it leaves the grouping next year.

A "no-deal" Brexit is possible, he said in an interview in Tokyo, "but I don't think it's in anyone's interest for that to happen. So that's why we are cautiously optimistic that we will get a deal. But there's a lot of work to do to get there."

British Prime Minister Theresa May travels to Salzburg, Austria, on today to meet other EU leaders. She needs to win over both the European Union and critics of her Brexit proposal within her own Conservative Party. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.

Japanese companies with operations in Britain are among those worried about the impact of a "no-deal" Brexit, in particular on their ability to export from the U.K. to the rest of Europe without tariffs or other trade restrictions. Under a no-deal scenario, the U.K. would leave the EU without establishing rules for future trade between Britain and the 27 remaining EU member countries.

"The U.K. will flourish and prosper as one of the strongest economies in the world whatever the outcome of these talks," Hunt said, noting its business-friendly environment and strong universities.

He defended the May government's proposed Brexit deal, which has been roundly attacked by his predecessor, Boris Johnson. Hunt succeeded Johnson as foreign secretary in July.

"British politics is littered with the graveyards of people who have predicted the demise of Theresa May and been proved wrong," he said.

"Of course Boris Johnson doesn't agree with some of the policy decisions that she's taken, but Theresa May has to speak not just for the 52 percent who voted for Brexit, she has to speak for 100 percent of the country," he added.

Hunt is in the Japanese capital to hold annual U.K.-Japan strategic dialogue talks with Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

He said he welcomes the summit that started Tuesday between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but that the time has come for the North to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear weapons.

"Words get you so far. I think words have helped, they've changed the atmosphere, but we need to see actions now," he said.

Britain has sent warships to the Pacific to help patrol for transfers between ships at sea that violate economic sanctions on North Korea. Hunt said Britain is ready to relax sanctions if there is concrete evidence of change on the North Korean side.

Hunt, who lived in Japan in the early 1990s, delivered a short speech without notes in Japanese to about 50 people from U.K.-Japan exchange programs.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech during a "strategic dialogue” at British Embassy in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Hunt said it’s time for North Korea to take concrete actions toward eliminating its nuclear weapons. Hunt told that Britain is ready to relax economic sanctions on North Korea when there is concrete evidence of a change from the North Korean side. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech during a "strategic dialogue” at British Embassy in Tokyo. Source: Associated Press


At least 21 reported killed in crash between bus and tanker in Iran

Iranian media are reporting that at least 21 people died in a road accident when a bus overturned following a collision with a tanker on a road in central Iran.

Today's report by the semi-official Tasnim news agency says the accident happened today on the road linking the cities of Kashan and Natanz, about some 250 kilometres southeast of the capital, Tehran.

It says 20 people were also injured in the crash and were taken to local hospitals.

Amateur video broadcast on Iranian media shows a burning bus, with flames rising into the nighttime sky.

With some 17,000 motorists killed annually, Iran has one of the world's worst traffic safety records, attributed to disregard for traffic laws, unsafe vehicles and inadequate emergency services.

Iran map (file picture).
Iran map (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Tornado spawned by Hurricane Florence hits town in Virginia, smashing building and killing one

One person was killed after the remnants of Hurricane Florence spawned an apparent tornado that touched down in the Richmond area in Virginia today and caused a building to collapse, authorities said.

A Chesterfield Fire/EMS spokesman said the victim was a man who worked at Old Dominion Flooring. 

The spokesman said when fire crews arrived the store's manager told them that all of the store's employees were accounted for, except for one man.

The spokesman said emergency personnel were working to recover the unidentified man's body. 

A second person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Dominion Energy reported 6,000 customers were without power due to the storm.

A spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said his agency considers the storms part of the remains of Florence, which left flooding rains across much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina over the weekend.

One person was killed in the tornado that touched down in Richmond. Source: Associated Press


Most read: Some KiwiBuild apartments redesigned after being too small for banks to lend on

This story was first published on Tuesday September 18.

The Housing Minister is calling it a one off and says it’s no big deal. Source: 1 NEWS

Inquiries from 1 NEWS have led to some KiwiBuild apartments being redesigned because they're too small for banks to lend on.

The 25 apartments announced last week at the 340 Onehunga development in Auckland are to be the first KiwiBuild apartments sold off the plans.

However, the six $380,000 KiwiBuild studio apartments were just 39.2sqm in size.

That's below the minimum 40sqm that major banks insist upon for buyers with KiwiBuild sized deposits.

After 1 NEWS made inquiries into the matter, the developer scrambled last night and adjusted the floor plans of the studio apartments.

The developer now says the apartments will meet the 40sqm criteria.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford told 1 NEWS today the incident is "no big deal".

"No look, it's no big deal, it's a very, very, small difference in the floor area, actually the apartments now are going to be slightly bigger," Mr Twyford says.

Loanmarket Director and mortgage broker Bruce Patten can't understand how it happened.

"The minimum size that a lender will lend money on an apartment has been 40sqm for some time.

"It's interesting they make these assumptions without approaching the people who are going to be funding it," Mr Patten says.

National MP Judith Collins says Mr Twyford should be embarrassed for not getting the details right.

"This is a blunder alright, but then most of what KiwiBuild has been, has been a bit of a blunder," Ms Collins says.

1 NEWS understands the plans for the six studio apartments are now being revised.