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Australia bidding to host UN climate summit, set new emissions target

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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.

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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.”

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