‘Contradiction’: Albo may skip UN climate summit

Anthony Albanese is unlikely to attend the United Nations climate change summit in Egypt later this year.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen and the assistant minister in the portfolio, Jenny McAllister, are both set to attend the COP27 at Sharm El-Sheikh in two months’ time.

It is understood the Prime Minister could decline an invite to the event.

The Egyptian President has invited heads of state and government to speak at COP27 from November 7 to November 8, at the same time as Australia’s parliament is sitting.

COP27 is also on right before the G20 summit in Bali and then the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Thailand.

Mr Albanese criticised Scott Morrison for his indecision over whether to attend the COP26 in Glasgow last November, saying at the time it would be “tragic” if Australia wasn’t represented.

Mr Albanese has this year been bidding for Australia to co-host the COP29 with other Pacific nations in 2024.

Two former Pacific Island leaders this week visited Canberra, where they said they would not support Australia hosting the summit as long as it continued to export fossil fuels.

Former Kiribati president Anote Tong and former Palau president Thomas Esang “Tommy” Remengesau said Australia needed to step up its commitment to climate action in order to hold such an event.

“If Australia will host a COP but at the same time continues to export coal and gas, then obviously these are a contradiction. We have delivered this message to the government,” Mr Tong told reporters at Parliament House on Wednesday.

Mr Tong reiterated his position on Thursday.

“And it … would seem to be a contradiction, if Australia wanted to host the forum, the COP, (and) wanted the Pacific Island countries to be a part of that, and at the same time, is contributing in significant terms to the emission levels,” he told ABC Radio.

The former prime minister came under significant public pressure to take part in COP26 and eventually agreed to attend the event.

Mr Morrison flew to Glasgow straight from the G20 summit in Rome.

Countries at COP26 were expected to present their revised Nationally Determined Contributions; their plans to show how they will cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet their targets under the Paris Agreement.

After months of wavering and a public clash between the Liberals and Nationals over Australia’s targets, Mr Morrison at COP26 formally committed Australia to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Morrison wouldn’t lift his government’s 2030 target any higher than its already agreed upon 26 to 28 reduction in emissions on 2005 levels.

Labor went to this year’s federal election promising stronger action on climate change.

The Albanese government last week passed its signature climate legislation through the Senate with the support of The Greens.

It enshrines in law both Australia’s net-zero by 2050 commitment and a short-term target of reducing emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia has this week been urged to increase its investment in climate action to uphold a commitment it made at the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen.

Australia at the time agreed to contribute to a $100bn USD fund which would support developing countries dealing with climate change.

But a report released by ActionAid Australia on Thursday estimates Australia is funding only one-tenth of its share globally.

The report calls on the federal government to immediately increase its climate finance commitments to $3bn before COP27.

ActionAid also wants the Commonwealth government to commit $4bn in climate finance each year from 2025.