The Australian Government has again taken a bandaid approach to climate action, announcing a climate adaptation partnership with Tuvalu at the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit in New York while remaining steadfastly committed to fossil fuels.
Australia was denied a speaking spot during the summit’s plenary session, which showcased “first mover and doer” leaders and restricted participation from countries that did not meet those criteria.
Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong made the announcement with Tuvalu later in the day during a separate thematic session and made no commitment to increase Australia’s climate target or to stop approving or subsidising fossil fuels, despite the expectation for all countries attending the summit to do both. Minister Wong also made no mention of Tuvalu’s recent call for a Fossil Fuel-free Pacific.
“The themes of this year’s UN climate ambition summit are ambition, credibility, and implementation. Australia fails on all counts,” said Polly Hemming, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.
“Minister Wong has previously said that Australia will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Pacific in response to the climate crisis. But this government’s insistence on approving more fossil fuel projects is more of a hip and shoulder to our Pacific neighbours, who have repeatedly called for no new fossil fuels.
“While Australia’s Foreign Minister is in New York announcing this partnership, Australia’s Environment Minister is in court defending the government’s right to ignore the link between fossil fuels and climate change when approving coal mines.
“Pacific countries urgently need support to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change. But what they need even more, and have explicitly asked, is for countries like Australia to stop opening new gas and coal mines that will worsen these impacts.
“Australia gives more aid to the fossil fuel industry than it does to the entire Pacific region. Australian taxpayers are effectively paying to make the climate crisis worse.”