Pacific island leaders and institutes are concerned about whether Australia’s engagement to tackle climate change is genuine.
The Australia Institute, a left-wing public policy think tank in Australia, revealed earlier this month that, despite Albanese’s $20 billion commitment to strengthen its ties to the region, where climate change is the single most pressing issue of development, Australia’s third largest export is still fossil fuel, and 28 coal mines are still in the approval pipeline.
Vanuatu has expressed disappointment with the irony of this initiative.
Vanuatu’s Minister for Climate Change Adaptation Ralph Regenvanu says they are currently in their third month of a state of emergency after a double-category four cyclone ravaged the country earlier this year, forcing the island nation to lose over 40% of its GDP.
“And now we see countries like Australia talking about the rule of law internationally, ok you signed up to all these agreements, you signed up to the Paris agreement, that is an international rule of law, if you don’t meet that commitment, do you have the right to talk about meeting the international rule of law in other areas.”
Regenvanu says the Pacific is vulnerable to the effects of developed countries capitalistic projects given that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that carbon emissions contain nearly 90% coal, oil, and gas.
“Countries utilizing coal, oil and gas, contributing to emissions, not meeting their targets, contributing to these disasters we’re experience, which cause us to lose so much of our potential development for our people and have to put it back to relief and recovery that’s like what we’re doing now.”
Tuvalu’s Minister for Finance Seve Paeniu agreed that livelihoods in the region have been compromised.
“Our food and water security is being threatened and livelihoods of our people, therefore being threatened and this is all caused by climate change and we know that fossil fuel is the cause of climate change.”
Meanwhile, the Australian High Commission in Suva reiterates in a statement to FBC News that the Aussies are re-establishing Australia as a climate leader internationally, as demonstrated in their bid to host COP31 in partnership with the Pacific.
The Albanese government says it is on track to meet its $2 billion climate finance commitment over 2020–2025, which includes $700 million to build climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. It is also committing $900 million of additional development assistance to the Pacific over the next four years, including new support for strengthening climate resilience.
Domestically, the Australian Government is taking real action on climate change, with one of the first acts of the new government being to legislate emissions reduction targets of 43 percent by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
The Government has reformed the Safeguard Mechanism to ensure that Australia’s largest emitting facilities across resources, heavy industry, transport, and more are required to reduce their emissions towards net-zero by 2050.
According to their calculations, these crucial reforms will deliver 200 million metric tons of emissions reduction by 2030, the equivalent of taking two-thirds of the nation’s cars off the road.
The Government is also rapidly increasing the share of renewable capacity in the electricity grid, with 82% renewables in Australia’s energy grid by 2030. The Government is investing, along with the private sector, to deliver this through an investment of $20 billion through Rewiring the Nation for transmission financing and unlocking $10 billion in dispatchable renewable capacity through the Capacity Investment Scheme