In a welcome investment in climate diplomacy, the Labor Government will spend $45.8 million on restoring “Australia’s climate reputation”. The funding will help build Australia’s capacity to re-engage constructively with its neighbours and the international community after descending into the role of the villain at recent United Nations (UN) climate forums.

Australia’s bid to host a UN Conference of the Parties (COP) cannot be understated. The COP is the largest UN event outside of New York, and the offer to host in partnership with Pacific neighbours is a sign of solidarity and leadership. However, more needs to be done to bolster this bid. This includes rejoining the UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Morrison Government previously pulled out of the GCF, leaving Australia as the only developed country that is not a contributor.

The Budget includes funding ostensibly for climate-related infrastructure initiatives in the Pacific, however little of this appears to be specifically set aside for climate. Only a $50 million one-off payment in existing grant funding for the Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership is specifically earmarked as Pacific climate finance, intended to ‘complement’ the bid to co-host a COP with Pacific Island countries.

As the Australian Government prepares to attend the 27th COP in Egypt in November, it should consider what else it can bring to the table to bolster its climate diplomacy and bid to host its own COP.  This could even include listening to Pacific Elders like former Presidents of Kiribati and Palau, who recently called for a halt to new gas and coal projects.

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