Australia said to end new fossil fuel subsidies if it wants Pacific backing to host climate summit | Policeman27

Australia must stop subsidizing new fossil fuel developments if it is to win the support of a key Pacific nation for its plan to co-host a major United Nations climate summit in 2026.

The Albanian government has launched a campaign at Cop27 climate talks in Egypt to co-host the annual climate conference with its Pacific neighbors in four years. The proposal could bring tens of thousands of people to an Australian city for climate and defense negotiations and has won the support of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Vanuatu’s new climate change minister, Ralph Regenvanu, told Guardian Australia that support should be conditional.

A former foreign minister who took responsibility for climate change after last month’s national elections, Regenvanu said he was not critical of the Albanian government, describing it as a “breath of fresh air” and a refreshing change after the Morrison government, which was widely criticized for its inaction on global warming.

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But he said his government could not back Australia’s co-hosting offer if it invested more money in fossil fuel development and would call on other Pacific countries to adopt the same stance.

“I will be speaking with other Pacific island nations to condition our support for Australia hosting the COP on the condition that no new government money is given to fossil fuels,” he said.

Regenvanu also called on Australia to join the Green Climate Fund, which finances climate and clean energy projects in developing countries. Scott Morrison abruptly pulled Australia out of the fund in 2019, arguing his government would instead pay climate finance directly to Pacific countries.

Some Pacific countries have indicated that they prefer this model as they feel that the Green Climate Fund has not focused enough on clean developments in the region. The Albanian government has not yet stated its position on the global fund, but announced an additional $900 million in its October budget to support climate development and resilience in the Pacific.

Regenvanu said Australia should rejoin the fund to help resolve it. “I told the minister that they need to get into the Green Climate Fund and change it so that the most vulnerable countries, including the Pacific, have access,” she said.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said there would be no government funding for new coal and gas fields under Labour, and some funding for gas developments and carbon capture and storage announced under the Coalition has been redirected in balance.

But the government has been criticized for maintaining the $1.5 billion equity support announced by the Morrison government for the middle arm industrial estate of Darwin Harbour, which is expected to include developments using gas, and for expanding the area available offshore for oil and gas exploration.

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies is a major focus of some countries at COP27, with Tuvalu joining Vanuatu in calling for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

Wednesday’s debate focused on wording a possible deal, with Bowen co-led discussions on the long-term climate finance text.

Other negotiating streams were working on a text on loss and damage, mitigation, adaptation and carbon markets. Loss and damage, which refers to a push by developing countries for a fund or facility to pay for the impact of worsening climate disasters, appeared the most controversial. The Alliance of Small Island States, a negotiating bloc, said it feared some rich countries were backing down on the issue.

The most energetic public moment of the day was a public appearance by Brazil’s president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who vowed to begin repairing the environmental damage that had taken place under his far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, and to work to end deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Later this week, Regenvanu is expected to use Cop27 to launch a final version of a resolution that Vanuatu plans to submit to the UN General Assembly. The resolution will ask the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the obligations of States to protect the rights of present and future generations from the effects of climate change.

COP27 is due to conclude on Friday evening, but negotiations have been slow and some observers believe they will continue over the weekend.

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