Pacific climate action must be met with Australian emissions reductions, says Caritas Australia

With the release of the Pacific Islands Forum communique this week, the Morrison Government’s climate aid package goes only some of the way to address the urgent and pressing call for Australia to take stronger action to reduce emissions, according to International Aid and Development Organisation, Caritas Australia.

Caritas Australia’s Director of Advocacy, Nic Nelson, spoke of the flaws in the government’s approach.

“Meaningful climate action is like a winning season of football. You always need to perform on your home ground, which, in turn, leads to stronger away performances,” Mr. Nelson said.

“We welcome efforts to respond to climate change in the Pacific, but a winning climate strategy includes stronger domestic action on emissions reduction. Without it, it’s a losing strategy, and unlike in the rugby, New Zealand is beating us in terms of climate action and the Pacific”.

Mr. Nelson also expressed disbelief about the Government’s abrupt withdrawal from the Green Climate Fund, which has meant that this new climate funding is drawn from aid budget money that is otherwise spent on essential programs aimed at eradicating global poverty.

“It’s worrying that a portion of the funds, up to 140 million, is being redirected from existing, essential elements of the aid budget that are often used for education funding and healthcare services.”

“The Boe Declaration, a multi-nation Pacific statement released in 2017, affirms that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihood, wellbeing, and security of the people of this region.”

“Yet this latest Pacific climate package does not contend with the underlying threat which Australia’s carbon emissions pose to the wellbeing and security of the entire region.”

At the forum, Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said he appreciates Australia's financial support, but pressed the case for the enforcement of firmer emissions reductions targets.

"No matter how much money you put on the table, it doesn't give you the excuse to not to do the right thing," Prime Minister Sopoaga said.

"Cutting down your emissions, including not opening your coal mines, that is the thing we want to see."

Caritas Australia promotes climate advocacy in the spirit of Pope Francis encyclical Laudato Si’ (on Care for our Common Home), where he urges the entire global human family to see our planet and its peoples as our universal home.

Caritas Media contact: Nicole Clements on 0408 869 833/ or Daniel Nour on 0410 106 913 / Caritas Australia can provide access to Pacific representatives on this issue.