Former President of Kiribati Anote Tong – pictured during his visit to parliament in 2018 – has returned to Australia this week to discuss climate. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

CANBERRA (NEWS.COM.AU) —Former Pacific leaders have called on the Australian government to stop “contradicting” itself on climate action.

The Australian government is hoping to host COP 29 in 2024, but former Kiribati president Anote Tong said it would be “wrong”, considering the current continued support for new oil and gas projects.

Tong and his fellow Pacific Elders Voice colleague Thomas Remengesau Jr – the former president of Palau – have spent time in Canberra this week meeting with government, opposition, and crossbench MPs and senators.

It follows the official legislation of a 43 per cent minimum emissions reduction by 2030, and net zero by 2050.

The pair have welcomed the call for Australia, on behalf of the Pacific region, to host the international climate conference, but called for them to do better in order to prevent island countries like their own from “completely disappearing” by 2060.

“We are very conscious of the fact that the current government is willing to take a more proactive stance on climate change and wants to be more proactive with respect to the Pacific,” Tong said.

“(But) it would appear to be a contradiction (that Australia wants to host COP 29 while still approving new fossil fuel projects.

“It just doesn’t make sense.

“We support Australia hosting because it would be in our part of the world and we want to be part of it, but to be part of something that’s not doing the right thing is wrong.”

Tong said COP was a forum that “really should be addressing” the progress.

“We cannot morally feel right to ask people to come when we’re not doing enough,” he said.

Tong – who in 2015 lead the call for a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects – said he was still asking world leaders for the same commitment.

“Because according to the UN Secretary General, in order to survive as a species, we need to leave what’s in the ground underground,” he said.

“Climate change is the primary stability issue.”

Independent Senator David Pocock said the ongoing burning of oil and gas was causing significant harm to the Pacific Islands.

“We’re at a point in our history where we have to have a look at our actions going forward,” he said.

“(The Pacific elders) have shown leadership that we’ve been missing here in Australia,” he said. PACNEWS

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