The Australian Government has been told it needs to commit to a fossil fuel phase out and to a significant increase in climate finance if it wants to co-host the 2026 UN climate conference (COP 31) with the Pacific.

A statement from the Pacific Elders’ Voice, which is an independent alliance of Pacific elders’ who have been leaders across the region, called on Australia to match its words about the dangers of climate change and the strategic importance of its Pacific relationship with actions. In particular the statement calls on Australia to:

• stop approving new gas and coal projects;

• Stop subsidizing fossil fuel production; and

• Significantly increase financial support for the Pacific

Pacific Elders’ Voice member, Enele Sopoaga (Former Prime Minister of Tuvalu from 2013 – 2019) said, “Pacific nations are already suffering from our vulnerability to climate change even though we have contributed the least to causing it. It is time for bigger countries who talk about the strategic importance of the Pacific to start listening more carefully to the priorities of their potential partners in the Pacific”

“In March this year, 6 Pacific countries signed the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific which calls for a suite of ambitious actions from Pacific governments who are spearheading the global phase-out of coal, oil and gas production aligned with the 1.5ºC temperature goal. But instead of talking to its Pacific neighbors about when it might build its last new gas or coal project, Australia has instead taken Pacific support for its bid to host COP31 for granted”

“Australia is already one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel exporters, but despite the International Energy Agency and the UN Secretary General both making clear that a world that wants to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees needs no new gas or coal mines, the Australian Government continues to subsidise and approve new gas and coal projects”.

“The Pacific Elders’ Voice is concerned that Australia’s words about the urgency of climate change do not match their actions. Not only is Australia silent about when it plans to build its last new fossil fuel mine, it hasn’t even committed to a significant increase in financial support for a Loss and Damage fund to be managed by the UNFCCC. Vague announcements about adaptation and finance or complex arrangements like debt instruments and markets make for good public relations but are no substitute for real action.”

We call on the Albanese Government of Australia to urgently honour Australia’s Paris Agreement commitments to significantly reduce its GHG emissions. We reiterate our calls for Australia to urgently phase out gas and coal and stop opening up new coal mining, as it has promised many times to Pacific Leaders at past PIF meetings. Real actions on climate change mitigation and adaptation, including for loss and damage, cannot be substituted by ODA.

“Under the circumstance the Pacific Elders Voice believe that the 52nd Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ summit should postpone any decision about whether Australia should co-host COP31 with the Pacific until Australia has demonstrated its ability to listen to and respect the needs of the Pacific and act in accordance with climate science.”

“The PIF Leaders Summit must unanimously call on Australia to stop approving Pacific-killing coal and gas projects. We reiterate that the Pacific Islands Forum should not rubber stamp Australia’s bid and that any endorsement must be based on commitments from Australia to take tangible climate action in the short term and commit to a fossil fuel phase out in the near future.

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