Nations must work together through ‘conflict and crisis’ to reduce climate change risks, Albanese tells OECD

Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese will declare the world must raise ambition to reduce the risks of runaway global heating and cooperate amid national policy differences even when “long shadows of conflict and crisis are threatening our shared security”.

The prime minister will use a speech to a special session of the council of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris to launch a clarion call for international cooperation on climate policy, as well as practical measures to safeguard energy and food security, as the world grapples with disruptions created by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Albanese will tell the OECD that Australia, Nieu-Seeland, Japan and South Korea – key partners in the Indo-Pacific – came to Europe this week to participate in the Nato summit in Madrid to “strengthen our ties and to show our support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s barbaric and illegal invasion”.

But he will also highlight the risks associated with escalating strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, noting one of his first acts after being sworn in as prime minister was attending the Quad leaders’ summit in Tokyo – “a sign of the importance my government places on fostering a stronger, more cooperative Indo-Pacific region that respects the sovereignty of nations”.

Albanese will tell his hosts the effects of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are being felt in Australia. “Russia’s actions have made it harder even for people in Australia to get by,” the prime minister will say. “Australians are paying higher prices for petrol and groceries as a direct result of Vladimir Putin’s aggression.”

“The conflict has injected a new level of volatility into Australia’s energy market, and that is putting stress on our household budgets.”

Albanese will argue the solution to these challenges is deepening cooperation between countries that value representative democracy, the rule of law, and the right for citizens to live in peace and security.

The new Labor government is using its more ambitious climate policy as a diplomatic entry point to reset Australia’s relationships in the Pacific, the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

Albanese will say food insecurity fuelled by the climate crisis and war is now a significant international challenge, and Australia as a major energy, resources and food exporter has “a significant role to play in securing access to these goods, especially in our Indo-Pacific region”.

The prime minister will say Australia is on the frontline of the climate crisis and “after successive seasons of unprecedented bushfires and floods, Australians know that the climate crisis is more than just an environmental threat, it’s a threat to our very security”.

With France a significant Pacific power, Albanese will tell the OECD council his government is prioritising regional cooperation to help keep global warming in check, including bringing public and private sector clean energy experts from across the Indo-Pacific region to Australia for the Sydney Energy Forum to be co-hosted with the International Energy Agency.

“We must instil confidence,” the prime minister will say. “Confidence that countries are taking genuine action to address climate change, and encouragement of closer cooperation, even where our policy approaches vary”.

“New frontiers of opportunity await us. So we must keep raising our ambitions to ensure these budding initiatives continue to grow and multiply and bear fruit in the years ahead.”

Albanese will use his address in Paris to reinforce the change of mindset in Australia on climate ambition that has accompanied the change of government at the federal level in May.

“As a nation blessed with an abundance of the resources needed to make clean energy, Australia has an unmatched advantage to be a world-leader in its production,” the prime minister will say.

“We’ve got the natural resources, the workforce, the scientific ingenuity, the global networks, and the industry expertise – and we now have the political will: a national commitment to drive toward a future powered by cleaner, cheaper energy.”

“As a proud Indo-Pacific nation, and a nation so frequently at the mercy of a changing climate, I have no hesitation in saying that addressing climate change must be a priority for global cooperation”.

The prime minister is using his visit to Europe to overcome blockages to free trade negotiations with the European Union that stalled because of French fury about the Morrison government’s cancellation of a $90bn submarine deal with Naval Group.

While in Paris, Albanese will meet the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to reset relations in the wake of Australia joining the Aukus nuclear submarine pact.

But Albanese also met one of his Aukus partners, the British prime minister Boris Johnson in Madrid. During the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders, Australia reiterated its commitment to the nuclear submarine deal and the two prime ministers also discussed what Australian officials characterised as their “common commitment to act on climate change”.

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