Seventy former diplomats including the former Australian ambassador to Palau have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers of Australia that its lack of commitment to stronger climate action by 2030 is concerning to its regional partners.

The letter, which was made  ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November, is calling out the Australian government’s “ current lack of commitment to time-bound targets to achieve rapid reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and the implications this has for the climate and environment we bequeath to future generations.”

Australia and the nations in the Pacific are known close allies but several Pacific leaders have expressed disappointment with the lack of action from Scott Morrison’s government. 

They said the lack of action undermines Australia’s standing geopolitically. 

This lack of commitment is particularly concerning to those regional partners for whom climate change already poses a clear existential threat,”  the letter said.

The Pacific region is considered one of the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change, with Australia being one of the top foreign partners of small nations in the Pacific.  

The former diplomats said while the United States and other developed nations have stepped up their action, Australia appears to do a lot of catching up. 

  The United States and other key partners in Europe and 2 around the globe are increasingly voicing concerns that Australia is not pulling its weight on climate action. Australia’s inertia on commitments undermines our credibility as a regional partner; it undermines our reliability in the minds of our strategic allies,” the letter said,

The letter added that it would  affect Australia as a trading partner and “undermine many of the strong international relationships we have built up over decades.”

The former diplomats include Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Consuls-General, Consuls, humanitarian aid coordinators, and a range of middle and senior level DFAT and AusAID officials.

“It’s about survival “

Palau president and his delegation will be attending the climate summit in November  and in a press conference on Wednesday, President Surangel Whipps Jr. reiterated that the meeting will be the time to act on bold action to combat climate change.

He said Palau is feeling the brunt of climate change with sea level rises and extreme weather events. 

‘This is about our survival,” he said.

The president said Palau has low-lying areas like Hatohobei and Sonsorol which might disappear due to rising seas.

‘If they disappear, there goes their culture, their identity .. so this is about survival and we really need commitment from everyone,” he said. ( B. Carreon)

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