Pacific nations have welcomed the election of a Labor government this month, expressing hope Australia will make a “radical shift” towards tackling the climate crisis.
Tuvalu and Kiribati face an uncertain future from rising sea levels, and they had criticised the Morrison Government’s proposed emissions reduction plan.
To express his country’s frustration about rising sea levels, Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe addressed the 2021 COP26 climate talks at a lectern knee-deep in water.
Commentators have also linked Australia’s lack of will to address the climate crisis with the Solomon Islands’ decision to sign a military deal with China.
Former Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga said he hopes Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will “make a radical shift towards strong and urgent climate action” and show “genuine support for the Pacific”.
“This would include radical new Australian targets for emissions reduction under the Paris Agreement, no new coal or gas, and an ongoing commitment to supporting Pacific Island nations as we face the brunt of climate impacts,” he said.
Former President of Kiribati H.E Anote Tong said Australia must make commitments to reduce both domestic and exported emissions, warning the government against greenwashing rather than taking genuine action.
“It is no secret that I have been disappointed with the attitudes of the previous Australian government towards the Pacific on a number of fronts, including climate change,” he said.
“My hope is that we will see stronger and more urgent climate action from the incoming government.”
Europe and US welcome election of Labor government
CEO of the European Climate Foundation Laurence Tubiana accused former Australian governments of having forgotten its international role in the “climate fight”.
“The new prime minister will need to address the climate elephant in the room and show the leadership needed to protect the planet by phasing out fossil fuels and accelerating the roll out of renewables,” he said.
Executive Director of United States Climate Action Network Keya Chatterjee welcomed Australia back into the “international climate action fold”.
“This election result shows Australians care about climate action, as Americans do, and are prepared to vote for it,” she said.
Hope Albanese government will create a climate policy 'reset'
Domestic environmental groups also expressed hope following the election result, with Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy calling the result “a huge win for the environment”.
“Australians were frustrated by the Morrison Government’s inert response to the urgent climate crisis, its reckless support for a ‘gas-led recovery’ and its attempts to water down already weak nature protection laws,” she said.
“A new government provides the opportunity for a reset, a new start, a better way.”
World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia said they hoped the government would “act quickly” on their commitment to reform Australia’s nature laws.
The charity’s Chief Conservation Officer Rachel Lowry warned current laws are failing to stop native animals like the koala “edging closer to extinction”.
Halting extinctions is achievable. Other developed countries have already made this commitment,” she said.
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