In a full-page advertisement published in the Fiji Times, a group of Pacific Island elders, which includes several formerly-reigned national leaders, has urged the nations of the Pacific Islands not to back Australia’s intention to host a United Nations climate summit until that nation ceases its expansion of fossil fuel.
The advertisement released on Wednesday by the organization known as the Pacific Elders’ Voice was timed to coincide with a trip to Fiji that Chris Bowen, the minister of climate change for Australia, took.
Under a picture of Anthony Albanese and Pat Conroy, the minister for foreign development and the Pacific, the advertisement urged Pacific leaders not to immediately support Australia’s request that they join a bid to co-host the Cop31 United Nations climate conference in 2026. The Cop31 conference is scheduled to take place in 2026.
According to what was stated in the advertisement, the Australian government has committed to “standing shoulder to shoulder” with its Pacific family in order to address the issue of climate change.
“Yet the response to our natural disasters, sea level rise, heat, [and] food insecurity has been to pursue more gas and coal projects – the very thing that is driving the climate crisis.”
While the rest of the world had moved into what António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, called an era of global boiling, the Pacific Elders’ Voice stated that Australia remained in “the era of fossil fuel expansion.” Former heads of state from the Marshall Islands (Hilda Heine), Kiribati (Anote Tong), Tuvalu (Enele Sopoaga), and Palau (Tommy Remengesau) are all present and active members of the organization.
“We have been clear that standing shoulder to shoulder with us must mean more than expecting to co-host a United Nations climate change conference in 2026 with us,” they added at the time.
“Australia has, for many years, disregarded our pleadings. Why therefore should leaders in the Pacific region be in such a rush to demonstrate their support for Cop31? Why are we in such a hurry?
It is believed that Australia is in a good position to host COP31 since it has received backing from a number of the members of the “Western Europe and Others” group, which is the group that will decide where the meeting is held. However, Australia has made it plain that it wants the bid to be a collaborative one. Bowen has made it clear on multiple occasions how important the Pacific’s role is.
This week, the minister for the environment was in Suva, the capital of Fiji, where she spent three days convening a gathering of climate change ministers from the Pacific area and attending a regional UN climate debate that lasted for two days. Before departing on Wednesday, Bowen gave a speech in which he stated that there was substantial support for an Australia-Pacific Cop bid.
“We talked about how we might be able to work together to ensure that this is truly and genuinely a Pacific COP,” he said. “We talked about how we might be able to work together to ensure that this is a Pacific COP.”
“As I mentioned to the ministers, I want people to leave COP 31, if it is held in Australia, saying ‘Wow, it really was a Pacific COP.’ I want that to be the lasting impression. And by that, I mean an opportunity to bring attention to issues pertaining to the Pacific at a moment when the Pacific has the focus of the world.”
The Albanese government has come under fire for permitting new advances in fossil fuel, such as the establishment of massive new gas fields. It has made a commitment of $1.5 billion to the Middle Arm industrial area in Darwin, which is defined as “a key enabler” for the development of the Beetaloo Basin, which is potentially a large source of gas, in a departmental brief to the government.
Bowen stated while he was in Suva that Australia was moving from receiving 35% of its electricity from renewable energy to getting 82% of its electricity from renewable energy in 2030. He stated that the nation “increasingly has become a renewable energy superpower” and that the nation was working with its main fossil fuel customer countries, such as Korea and Japan, to assist those countries in their transition to clean generating.
“They are now on a trip. He stated, “We are not going to remove coal and gas (fossil fuel) tomorrow; nobody is really expecting [that].” “But it’s been a good discussion [with climate ministers from the Pacific] about how quickly the transition in Australia is taking place, and it’s taking place very, very quickly..”
The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, which is made up of several non-governmental organizations, expressed their concern over Australia’s ambition to obtain early support for their candidacy to host the climate summit.
In a statement, the network stated, “While we acknowledge Australia’s aspiration to lead in hosting Cop31, Pacific governments must seek tangible evidence of Australia’s dedication to substantial climate action, especially with regard to fossil fuels.” “While we acknowledge Australia’s aspiration to lead in hosting Cop31, Pacific governments must seek tangible evidence of Australia’s dedication to substantial climate action,”
Beginning in late November, the next major United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is also known as COP28, will take place in the United Arab Emirates.