PACNEWS – 02:20 am GMT+12, 04/12/2020, Fiji
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor has praised Australian states for their commitments to net zero carbon by 2050, but tiptoed around Australia’s leader at the Pacific Forum table, Scott Morrison.
In her Christiana Figueres Oration at the 7th Australasian Emission Reduction Summit yesterday evening, Dame Meg spoke at length about the impact of the climate crisis for Pacific Forum Leaders, who had issued a call at their Tuvalu meeting in 2019 for urgent climate action, now, through a Kainaki Declaration.
Reflecting on the rhetorical ‘What do we want to see from Australia’ question, she acknowledged Australia’s “ongoing support to the region. It continues to play a critical role in supporting Pacific Island countries’ responses to climate change impacts, particularly during times of cyclones. Its support for COVID-19 preparedness, including support to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines.”
“Indeed, the commitment of Australian state governments to net zero carbon by 2050 is a win for humanity and we look forward to that same ambition at the federal level,” she said, steering clear of the direct contradiction between the current stance of the Morrison government with the state-level commitments. Instead, she welcomed efforts from the government on greener technologies.
“I would also go as far as to reaffirm our collective call as outlined in the Kainaki Declaration for a just transition from fossil fuels, including the phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” she added, before encouraging the business community to support “greater public and political push for an Australian national commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 – our Pacific region is the most impacted by climate change and we need to be leading from the front. I also encourage greater investment in renewable technology, with opportunities for technology transfer to the Pacific.”
Dame Meg, who will finish her six year term with the Pacific Islands Forum in early 2021, focussed her message to the annual summit around the realities for the Pacific region, and the determination of Forum Leaders to keep the Paris Commitments and call for urgent climate action on the global agenda as December comes and goes for the first time in decades with no Climate COP meeting– now deferred til next year.
“Climate change requires us to change – it requires drastic behavioural and policy change underpinned by strong political commitment across all countries and regions,” she said, “In the Pacific region, we are not standing by. We are taking action to address the climate change impacts facing our countries and economies both now, in the medium, and in the long term,” Dame Meg said.