Pacific Islanders in Australia and overseas have cautiously welcomed the Morrison Government’s commitment to net zero climate pollution by 2050. However, they also believe that without a firm plan for more immediate action by 2030, Australia is unlikely to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Former President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong, said: “Kiribati does not have until 2050 to see whether or not the world or Australia meets carbon neutrality. A promise of net zero emissions by 2050 is too far away for us. If world emissions do not decrease significantly by 2030, Kiribati may well become uninhabitable by mid-century.”
H.E. Anote Tong’s comments are echoed by Mr Maina Talia, Secretary of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network, who will be attending COP26 in Glasgow: “For Tuvalu, climate change impacts are already here and our very survival is in question. At a minimum the Australian Government needs to match the 2030 targets of the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. This will require a commitment for Australia to at least halve our climate emissions by 2030.”
While clearly a step in the right direction, the net zero emissions target by 2050 announced by the Federal Government today is business as usual. As such it is likely to reinforce a perception of Australia as unwilling and unable to comprehend or address the difficult situation many Pacific island nations already find themselves in due to climate change impacts.
Earlier this month, Samoa's new Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, also called for Australia to cut “emissions in half by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.”
Maria Tiimon Chi Fang, an I-Kiribati woman now working for the Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnership program, concluded: “Australia can and must do more- not only because it is the responsible thing to do but also because we are all interconnected and inter-dependent. The demise of Pacific island nations due to climate change will certainly not leave Australia unscathed.”
For more information and interviews, contact:
H.E. Anote Tong via Corinne Fagueret, Ph: 0421 831 889
Maina Talia, Ph: 0433 988 784
Maria Tiimon Chi Fang, Ph: 0406 068 784