Bowen urges new China-US climate talks

·2-min read

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has urged China and the United States to resume talks ahead of the COP27 summit later this year.

"Unless the world's two biggest emitters are at least talking... then we are holding one hand behind our back in terms of the effort to get to net zero," Mr Bowen told the US think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies on Saturday morning.

US-Chinese climate negotiations were suspended amid a spike in tensions after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August.

Mr Bowen said a rapprochement between the two governments would help generate a better result at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, to be held in Egypt in November.

"I hope that (US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate) John Kerry and his (Chinese) counterpart can meet in the lead-up to COP," he said.

"That would lead to a much better outcome".

The minister's comments came as pressure mounted on Australia to join a treaty banning new global oil and gas projects.

Vanuatu will become the first nation to call for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, with the Pacific island nation's president Nikenike Vurobaravu to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday morning (AEST).

Mr Vurobaravu will use his speech to urge the international community - particularly coal and gas producer Australia - to phase out fossil fuels and stop new projects, and warn of the "debilitating consequences" of climate change.

"Fundamental human rights are being violated and we are measuring climate change not in degrees of celsius or tonnes of carbon, but in human lives," he will say.

"Our youth are terrified of the future world we are handing to them through expanding fossil fuel dependency, compromising intergenerational trust and equity."

The treaty, backed by the Vatican and the World Health Organisation, has been endorsed by more than 65 cities and governments across the world, including the City of Sydney and the ACT.

Vanuatu, already a carbon-negative country, absorbs more emissions than it produces and is one of the most at-risk nations for natural disasters, according to the UN.

Brianna Fruean, a Pacific climate activist, says the treaty is a "vital investment" in the future.

"They've heard the call from our youth that there's no future for us in fossil fuels and listened. It's time for other world leaders to do the same."

Tongan Pacific climate activist Kalo Afeaki says fossil fuels will be the end of island countries in the region.

"We need countries to be bold because we have run out of time," she said.

"The future scares me ... we need countries to endorse the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty and we need them to do so now."