The Morrison government has unveiled an additional $500m for international climate finance on the first day of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
But Australia’s prime minister says the funding will be directed to projects in the Indo-Pacific rather than distributed through the green climate fund.
After visiting a Glasgow shipyard early on Monday to return fire in an escalating diplomatic row with the French president, 에마뉘엘 마크롱, Scott Morrison joined the Cop26 and met Pacific leaders on the opening day of the summit.
The prime minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, characterised Australia’s new commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 as “a start”.
But he said he wanted a concrete plan for Australia “to halve emissions by 2030”. The Fijian prime minister presented Morrison with a copy of his country’s Climate Change Act “as a guide”.
Before the Cop26 climate summit, Pacific leaders warned Morrison they face existential peril because of global heating, which contributes to rising sea levels, exposing island nations to the risk of inundation.
In the lead-up to Glasgow, Pacific countries lobbied Morrison to boost Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target.
Morrison acknowledged on Monday there was “no greater threat to our Pacific family than climate change”. But he said Australia would pursue international financing to combat the climate crisis on its own terms.
“We are not putting this [funding] through other worldwide institutions, other groups like this,” Morrison told reporters in Glasgow.
“We are doing this direct. We want to make sure that the climate finance investments that Australians are making are invested in our back yard, among our Pacific Island family and among our south-east Asian partners and friends.
“We want to cut out all the red tape and get rid of all the bureaucracy and make sure that this funding is going to work directly within the region, making a big difference for their resilience and their mitigation to ensure they can deal, not just with trying to reduce their own emissions, but more significantly, being able to deal with the consequences of climate change which they are already experiencing in their many Pacific Island nations.”
The green climate fund was set up through the UN’s climate convention to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and cut their own greenhouse gas emissions.
But Morrison pulled Australia out of the fund in 2018 during an interview with the radio broadcaster Alan Jones. Subsequently, Australia has funded projects in the Pacific region, and the prime minister pledged a further $500m on Monday.
Morrison said the money would be directed to Pacific and south-east Asian countries to enhance climate resilience for future infrastructure investments, including roads, schools and bridges. On the sidelines of the conference, Australia also signed an agreement with Fiji to develop a carbon market.
Fiji has become the first country to join the Morrison government’s proposed Indo-Pacific carbon offsets scheme.
Under the Morrison government’s roadmap to achieve net zero emissions, nearly half the abatement to be undertaken between now and 2050 will be delivered by “global technology trends”, “further technology breakthroughs” and through international and domestic offsets.
Australia’s energy and emissions reduction minister, 앵거스 테일러, said Australia’s commitment to achieve net zero involved purchasing abatement through offsets. “We are putting in place the building blocks to enable that to occur,” Taylor said.
He said the Indo-Pacific offset scheme would “help Australia’s private sector meet its emissions reduction targets by enabling investment in credible projects in the region that demonstrate high environmental integrity”.