Scott Morrison’s announcement that the Government will funnel $500 million of existing aid funds to the Pacific Islands to help countries invest in renewable energy and disaster resilience is meaningless without Australia taking real action on climate change.
This is cynical window dressing that does nothing to address the existential threat Pacific Islands face from climate change. It will not repair Australia’s reputation with our Pacific neighbours that has been damaged by this Government’s reactionary stance on climate change.
Nor is it a new investment – it is money diverted from the already stretched aid budget which has been cut by more than $11 billion under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.
And it is desperate and cynical for Mr Morrison to claim credit for the good work of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation when the Liberals voted against it and repeatedly tried to abolish it.
Mr Morrison said the $500 million funding over five years from 2020 “highlights our commitment to not just meeting our emissions reduction obligations at home but supporting our neighbours and friends", but neither is the case.
His Government has presided over significant increases in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and has failed to adopt policies to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals of avoiding dangerous climate change.
Recycling $500 million of existing aid funding cannot hide the fact that Mr Morrison is ignoring the pleas of Pacific leaders for Australia to take leadership on climate change.
Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga has said his country’s positive relationship with Australia could change if the future of his people was not taken seriously.
Mr Morrison must use the Pacific Islands Forum this week to launch more ambitious action on climate change, including ruling out the use of Kyoto carryover credits and to heed the warnings of Pacific leaders.