Hosting UN Climate Summit Could Ease Pacific Tensions: Report

A new research report released today has found that by hosting the UN’s largest climate event (COP29 in 2024) in partnership with Pacific neighbours, Australia could ease diplomatic tensions in the region, in addition to tackling climate change and stimulating local tourism and hospitality.

The report comes as Australia’s relations with the Solomon Islands have come under increasing pressure overnight following criticism from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. The Federal Opposition has pledged it will bid to host the UN climate conference in Australia in 2024, with a decision expected in November 2022.

Key Findings:

  • The United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) is the biggest event in the UN calendar.
  • To be successful in its bid to host COP29, the Australian Government will need to significantly scale up diplomatic resources and engagement with the UN and in the Pacific region.
  • Australia has a history of putting on major events like the Olympics and the G20 and this would be a more modest undertaking
    • Up to 20,000 participants are expected, benefiting local tourism and hospitality, two of the sectors hardest hit during the pandemic.
  • The Opposition’s proposal to host the COP in two years (COP29 in 2024) would have numerous diplomatic and economic co-benefits:
    • It must be accompanied by improvements in climate policies to be credible, including rejoining the UN’s Green Climate Fund
    • Hosting in partnership with a Pacific Island nation could help mend tensions around regional climate policy and foreign policy

“Australia’s reputation as a climate laggard and a poor regional neighbour could be jointly reset by hosting the UN climate conference in Australia, in partnership with our Pacific neighbours,“ said Richie Merzian, climate & energy program director at the Australia Institute.

“Partnering on the UN’s largest event would demonstrate solidarity with our neighbours over the existential threat posed by climate change in our region — it would be a major diplomatic feat.

“Hosting the UN’s largest event would have flow-on benefits to tourism, hospitality, and the economy, in addition to broader reputational and diplomatic benefits.

“The Australian Government could even extend an opportunity to fund preparatory UN meetings in the Pacific, including in Honiara. The question is whether the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands in particular, want to partner with Australia.

“One of the biggest differences in climate policy this federal election is the Labor party’s commitment to host a UN climate conference in Australia.

“For Australia to credibly host a COP it must also improve its climate policies, and this has to include re-joining the UN’s Green Climate Fund and addressing its ever-growing fossil fuel production.”

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