Australia has signed on to the Boe Declaration at the Pacific islands Forum in Nauru, which declares all 18 countries must “reaffirm” that climate change is the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and our commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris.”
However, reports from journalists at the forum claim that Australia did push to water down the declaration.
The Boe Declaration builds on an 18-year-old security pact to cover “non-traditional” areas of regional security including around the environment, cyber crime and human security.
The leaders have also promised to work together to “ensure effective progress on Pacific priorities” in the lead up to the COP24 climate conference in Poland later this year.
The declaration comes at a time when Australia has spent years — and burned through a number of PMs in the process — without any kind of meaningful policy on addressing climate change.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison didn’t attend the forum in Nauru — sending newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne instead — but he did say in an interview on Wednesday that a “business-as-usual” model will see Australia meeting its Paris target on reducing emissions.
As the Guardian points out, that’s not the opinion of the Government’s own Energy Security Board, which says that such an approach would see Australia falling short of the 26% reduction target.
And the first few weeks of the Morrison Government don’t exactly indicate a major shift towards addressing the need for action on climate change. Morrison, who once held a lump of coal in Parliament, appointed Angus Taylor as his new energy minister. Taylor told 2GB’s Alan Jones this week that there is already too much wind and solar power in the electricity system, and that he intends to make sure that ‘fair dinkum’ power (which apparently means coal) is retained. Notably, while he denied accusations of being a climate skeptic, he did dodge journalist questions after his first speech as energy minister last week.
Senator Payne told the media earlier on in the week that taking action on climate change is “absolutely a top priority for the region and a top priority for Australia.”
So perhaps then, very, very optimistically, we can await some meaningful policy announcements in the coming weeks and months. Perhaps, but probably not.