COP29: Australia’s relationship with the Solomon Islands needs to be restored

Australian leaders were urged to take a great opportunity to re-establish relations with the Solomon Islands and restore the country’s global reputation.

Australia could greatly improve its global reputation by hosting a UN climate summit alongside Pacific island nations, experts say.

Labor says that if it wins the next election, it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 in partnership with Pacific Island neighbors, “if they so wish.”

The move could help improve relations with the region, particularly the Solomon Islands, where Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this week stepped up his criticism of Australia following a controversial security deal between the Solomons and China.

in a wide-ranging pull Sogavare said references to his country as Australia’s “backyard” showed a lack of respect.

Scott Morrison said he’s trying to improve the relationship, but admitted Wednesday that he hadn’t been in contact with Mr. Sogavare for several weeks.

A new report from the Australia Institute expert panel on Australia’s possible hosting of COP29 has shown that this could greatly increase Australia’s position internationally, particularly in light of recent diplomatic tensions.

He suggested that the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, could host pre-COP meetings in a shared vision demonstration.

“The Australian government could extend the opportunity to fund UN preparatory meetings in the Pacific, including in Honiara,” said lead author of the report and director of climate and energy at Australia Institute Richie Merzian.

“The question is whether the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands in particular, want to collaborate with Australia.”

Australia is one of the signatories to the 2018 BOE statement which points to climate change as the biggest threat to the Pacific islands.

Despite this, Australia did not take the threat seriously both domestically and abroad.

Prior to last year’s COP26 held in Glasgow, Australia had been doomed for lagging far behind the efforts of other countries working towards fixed emissions reduction targets.

In the wake of global pressure, the coalition government has implemented a net zero emissions target by 2050, albeit largely relying on industry and other governments’ actions to get there.

While the benefits of hosting COP29 would be multiple, the report concludes, it would require Australia to take climate change seriously.

“For Australia to credibly host a COP, it also needs to improve its climate policies and this must include returning to the United Nations Green Climate Fund and addressing its ever-growing production of fossil fuels,” Merzian said.

The United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) is the largest event on the United Nations calendar with over 20,000 attendees expected in 2024.

According to the report, Australia’s international reputation at events such as the COP is to “support the continued use of fossil fuels and exploit loopholes in international climate negotiations to avoid emissions reductions.”

“Holding the position of president for the 2024 international climate negotiations would be an opportunity to redeem Australia’s climate reputation. It would bring Australia into line with its allies, the UK and the US, ”the report said.

“Prioritizing climate change and tapping into their strengths in partnership with Pacific island countries will reap the benefits for a safer and more aligned region.”

Originally published as Australia offered a chance to repair global reputation and regional relations

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