Australia will present a more ambitious UN emissions target “very soon” and is bidding to co-host a COP summit with Pacific island neighbors, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Thursday, signaling a ground shift in climate policy.
During a first solo overseas visit since her center-left government was sworn in, Wong admitted that on the climate “Australia has neglected its responsibility” under past governments.
Wong told hosts in Fiji’s capital Suva that there would be no more “disrespecting” Pacific nations or “ignoring” their calls to act on climate change.
“We were elected on a platform of reducing emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050,” she said.
“And we’re not just going to say it, we will enshrine it in law and we will submit a new nationally determined contribution to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) very soon.”
Under conservative leadership, Australia - already one of the world’s largest gas and coal exporters - has also become synonymous with playing the spoiler at international climate talks.
Wong said the new Labor government wanted to upend that record by co-hosting a future climate summit.
“We have proposed a bid to co-host a future UN Conference of the Parties with Pacific Island countries and I’m looking forward to further discussions in the region about this idea.”