Australia should be regional 'big brother'

·2-min read

Australia's push to host a global climate change conference would be a "contradiction" with the approval of new coal and gas projects, former Pacific leaders say.

Kiribati's former president Anote Tong and Palau's former president Tommy Remengesau Jr met with MPs in Canberra on Wednesday to push for stronger action on climate change, and to stop new projects.

When asked about the federal government's bid to co-host the United Nations COP 29 climate summit in 2024 with its Pacific neighbours, Mr Tong said it would "appear to be a contradiction" with support for fossil fuels.

"It doesn't make sense," he told reporters in Canberra.

"We support Australia hosting because it would be in our part of the world ... but to be part of something that's not doing the right thing, is wrong."

Mr Remengesau said Pacific nations were facing a "very delicate, very perilous moment".

"We want Australia as the big brother to set the tone and walk the talk for all of us," he said.

"That would be a perfect opportunity for the Pacific to come together truly as a family and show the rest of the world that we are doing something meaningful in our own backyard."

Mr Tong said climate change, rather than the actions of superpowers, was the primary security issue.

He welcomed the government's newly legislated emissions target, but said policies could be more ambitious.

"Unless we can do more on climate change, our future, the future of my grandchildren, our grandchildren will be at stake," Mr Tong said.

Independent senator David Pocock, who jointly held the press conference with the former leaders, said Australia had a "moral responsibility" to stand with its neighbours.

Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen on Wednesday announced three new members had been appointed to the Climate Change Authority - Dr Virginia Marshall, Professor Lesley Hughes, and Sam Mostyn.

Senator Pocock said the appointments were a "great first step" but he wanted to see more people with climate science backgrounds.

"We can't be in a situation where every change of government we just see all these appointments that align with their ideology," he said.