Australia is facing a critical test of its credibility on tackling the climate crisis and its ability to remain a trusted partner to the region as Pacific Island Forum leaders prepare to meet in Tuvalu this week, Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia Climate Change Policy Adviser Simon Bradshaw said Australia could expect to be held to account for its rising emissions, burgeoning fossil fuel exports, and lack of any meaningful plan to tackle the climate crisis.
“Pacific leaders, including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will gather at Tuvalu, where the community is grappling with the extreme toll of climate damage – where rising seas and higher storm surges are already swallowing land and contaminating scarce water supplies, and where homes, livelihoods and the fate of an entire nation are at stake,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“Last year, Australia endorsed the historic Boe Declaration on Regional Security, which reaffirmed climate change was the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.
“Yet Australia’s actions tell a different story. Australia is among a tiny minority of developed countries in which climate pollution is going up, not down. Australia’s emissions per person are about 15 times those of a person in Tuvalu – and each year Australia produces six times more climate pollution that all other Pacific Island Forum members combined.”
Dr Bradshaw said in the face of this crisis, Australia planned to: undermine the spirit of the Paris Agreement by counting emissions avoided during the Kyoto period towards achieving its modest 2030 reduction target, stubbornly continue to ramp up its status as the world’s largest exporter of coal and gas, and withdraw from further contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
“The climate pollution from the proposed Adani mine alone would – over its life – be greater than that of all the Pacific Island countries,” Dr Bradshaw said. “Put simply, Australia’s climate pollution is rising and the country is not even on track to meet its existing, woefully inadequate contribution to the Paris Agreement.”
Dr Bradshaw said this week’s leaders’ meeting was the first since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark report on limiting warming to 1.5C, which laid out the severe consequences of failing to limit warming to 1.5C and the scale and pace of global action necessary to achieve this goal, including that global emissions must be roughly halved over the next decade and reach zero before the mid-century.
“This week’s meeting also comes three months after the Morrison Government was returned to power and will be a key test of its commitment to addressing climate change
“Australia must develop a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power and moving to 100 per cent renewable energy, impose a ban on new coal mines, rule out the use of Kyoto carry-over units to meet its Paris Agreement commitments and at least double its contribution to international climate finance.
“Pacific island countries are tackling the grave injustice they face head on – having contributed the least to climate change, these nations are making bold national commitments, and playing a major role in international negotiations.
“If Australia is to remain a trusted partner to the members of the Pacific family, and with that retain the ability to help shape the region’s future, it must immediately step up its response to the number one priority of its neighbours – climate change.”