Australia could significantly improve its global reputation by holding a UN climate summit with Pacific Island countries, experts say.
Labor says if it wins the next election, they will be eligible to hold 2024 COP29 in partnership with Pacific Island neighbors, “if they wish”.
The move could help improve relations with the region, especially with Solomon Islands, where Prime Minister Monaco Sogavar this week stepped up his criticism of Australia following a controversial security agreement between Solomon Islands and China.
У wide tirade Mr Sogavar said mentions of his country as Australia’s “backyard” showed a lack of respect.
Scott Morrison said he was looking to improve the relationship, but on Wednesday admitted he had not been in contact with Mr Sogavar for weeks.
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A new report from the Australian Institute’s think tank on the possible holding of COP29 in Australia has shown that it could significantly boost Australia’s reputation internationally, especially in light of recent diplomatic tensions.
He suggested that the capital of Solomon Islands, Haniar, could hold meetings in front of the COP to demonstrate a common vision.
“The Australian Government can provide funding for UN preparatory meetings in the Pacific, including in Haniari,” said Richie Merzian, lead author and director of the Australian Institute of Climate and Energy.
“The question is whether the Pacific and the Solomon Islands in particular want a partnership with Australia.”
Australia has signed the Boe Declaration in 2018, which calls climate change the biggest threat to the Pacific islands.
Despite this, Australia believed it did not take the threat seriously both domestically and abroad.
Ahead of last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, Australia was condemned for lagging far behind the efforts of other countries working towards firm emission reduction targets.
In the wake of global pressure, the coalition government has achieved the goal of zero net emissions by 2050, although relying mainly on industry and the actions of other governments to achieve this.
Although the benefits of COP29 will be diverse, the report said it would require Australia to take climate change more seriously.
“For Australia to conduct its COP reliably, it must also improve its climate policy, and this must include re-joining the UN Green Climate Fund and addressing the ever-growing fossil fuel production,” Mr Merzian said.
The United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) is the largest event in the UN calendar, with more than 20,000 participants expected in 2024.
According to the report, Australia’s international reputation at events such as the COP is one of “supporting the continued use of fossil fuels and the use of loopholes in international climate negotiations to avoid emission reductions”.
“Taking the presidency at the international climate talks in 2024 would be a chance to restore Australia’s climate reputation. That would bring Australia into line with its allies, Britain and the United States, ”the report said.
“Prioritizing climate change and using relevant strengths in partnership with the Pacific Islands will benefit the safer and more harmonious region.”