FORMER PACIFIC LEADERS have sent a strong message to the federal government in a new Climate Council report released just days out from the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Fiji.
As Foreign Ministers meet today to discuss the agenda for the 51st Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the Climate Council has released a new report, A Fight for Survival: Tackling the climate crisis is key to security in the Blue Pacific. The report outlines why climate change needs to be front and centre if Australia wants to position itself as a key security partner for Pacific island countries.
Dr Wesley Morgan, Climate Council Senior Researcher, climate diplomacy expert and the report’s lead author, who is attending the PIF next week in Fiji said:
“In a warming world, climate policy is foreign policy. Under the previous federal government, Australia’s failure to act on climate change undermined our national security – nowhere is that more evident than the Pacific.
“The Pacific Islands Forum is a crucial moment for the Albanese Government to reset relations with strategically important Pacific nations, and prove itself as a climate leader.
“Australia will need to show Pacific countries that it is serious about climate action, both by cutting emissions at home and working with the rest of the Pacific to drive global cuts in emissions this decade,” added Dr Morgan who lived in the Pacific for 12 years and has attended multiple PIFs.
A group of former Pacific leaders including, former Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga, former President of the the Republic of Kiribati Anote Tong, former President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine, former President of Palau Thomas Remengesau, and previous Security General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor wrote in a joint statement:
“This report is a must-read. This is mainly because the primary security threat to the Pacific islands is climate change.
“The latest assessments are clear: global emissions must be halved during this decade. There is no room for new coal and gas.”
The independent group – known as the Pacific Elders’ Voice (PEV) – has emphasised that Pacific countries “will need to see more urgent actions – including accelerated efforts to move beyond coal and gas – to match the security threat we face. New finance should also be made available for unavoidable loss and damage.”
- The Climate Council report calls for Australia to dramatically ramp up its climate ambition, end its love affair with coal and gas, immediately rejoin the Green Climate Fund and announce new finance to help Pacific countries deal with climate impacts.
- Without immediate and urgent action from the global community, Pacific island countries face severe and irreversible climate impacts that will wreak havoc for island communities.
- Australia must go harder and faster to act on the climate crisis to repair the relationship with our Pacific neighbours and address the growing security threat climate change poses for our region.
- Australia can and must take decisive action to act on climate change in accordance with what the science demands and in partnership and close consultation with Pacific communities and leaders.
- Australia wants to co-host a UN Climate Summit with Pacific nations, but must heed Pacific priorities for climate action.
“Climate change is an existential threat to the Pacific and despite stronger emissions targets from the new Australian Government, the latest science and assessment of global targets shows a catastrophic shortfall on the scale of action required,” Dr Morgan said.
“To rebuild trust in the Pacific and potentially co-host a UN climate summit with island nations in 2024, Australia’s new 2030 emissions reduction targets must be a floor, not a ceiling.”
Based on its high emissions, economic strength, and vast untapped opportunities for renewable energy, Australia should aim to reduce its emissions to 75% below 2005 levels by 2030.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The 51st Pacific Islands Forum is taking place in Suva, Fiji from July 11 to July 14, and is the most important annual political meeting for the Pacific region.
- This PIF will be the first in-person meeting since 2019 and will be dominated by discussions about climate change and security (given the deal between China and Solomon Islands signed earlier this year).
- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to attend.
- The current chair of the PIF is Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
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