Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Talofa [Tah-lo-far] (hello),
Director General Sefa, ministers, your excellencies, colleagues and friends -
I am honoured to be here with the Pacific family.
It’s an incredibly big task for our hosts to bring us all together and I’m so grateful you have.
This is a terrific assembly of ministers and officials, who I know are all working tirelessly to improve outcomes in the Pacific’s environment.
I am so pleased to be here with my dear colleague Minister Tanya Plibersek.
And I know many of you had the chance to meet with my other great colleague Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen two weeks ago in Fiji.
Altogether, Australian Ministers have made over 30 visits to the Pacific since the election of the Albanese Government in May 2022.
The reason is simple – we are committed to listening. And that’s what this visit is about.
At the Pacific Climate Ministers Roundtable in Suva two weeks ago, we heard shared enthusiasm for using the opportunity of COP31 to focus on Pacific priorities.
It was a key early step in our partnership to progress the joint bid and begin sharing early views and perspectives about what a joint-hosted COP31 could look like.
There is still work to do to secure the bid – it is not a clear slate.
We’re grateful for the support of a number of the WEOG members.
Australia is leaning into this bid. We’re grateful for the support you have offered and we are looking forward to partnering as we progress our bid.
We have to seize this opportunity – not just for our region but for the world.
LISTENING TO THE PACIFIC
I think everyone here understands that our region has something to tell the world.
Here in the Pacific, home to some of the richest ecosystems – in the seas and on the land – in the world. Where the effects of climate change become more obvious each season.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of you and your colleagues at previous COPs.
Your message is clear – climate change is the most pressing threat to our shared security, to our livelihoods, to the wellbeing of our people, to the Blue Pacific Continent.
Action is as urgent as it is essential.
AUSTRALIA IS LISTENING
We are listening.
It’s why Australia under the Albanese government stood with the Pacific to declare a climate emergency in 2022.
That is precisely why we are committed to a Pacific COP.
The Pacific has an important message. The Australian Government has heard it, and is acting on it.
Now the world needs to hear it too.
AUSTRALIA IS ACTING ON CLIMATE CHANGE
We know the world needs to act on climate change. Since the last election, the Australian Government has made our commitment’s clear.
We want to do our part and embolden the world to maintain and expand ambition.
There are three important things we are doing to achieve that.
THE CLEAN ENERGY TRANSFORMATION AT HOME
First, is to get the Australian economy on a path to net zero.
The work to get the world to net zero means transitioning our economies onto renewable energy.
Australia is doing just that.
We have set ambitious but achievable targets to get our electricity grid to 82% renewables by 2030 - a huge transformation from the 32% when we came to office.
And we have made enormous investments in building out the generation and transmission to meet that target.
SUPPORTING OTHERS WITH THEIR CLEAN ENERGY TRANSFORMATIONS
Second, we want to support our friends and partners in their transition to net zero too.
That includes in the Pacific.
Our new international development policy will continue the Australian Government’s longstanding commitment to the Pacific and grow our focus on climate change resilience.
The new policy means climate risk will be considered in all our development plans.
From 2024, at least 50 per cent of significant new investments [over AUD3 million] will have a climate change objective.
And all will be aligned to partners Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans.
It means more great work like the Solar Pacific Pristine Power project in Palau – which was financed by the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific – to help construct Palau’s first major solar and battery storage facility which will generate over 20 per cent of the country’s energy needs.
We will support the Pacific transition as we help the Indo-Pacific to transition.
We will do that by realising our ambition to be a renewable energy superpower.
We are investing in that vision, and ensuring we leverage our reputation as a trusted trading partner.
That is the path to building the clean energy supply chains that will power the broader region through the next century.
A PACIFIC COP
Our third is why I am here – to elevate the powerful voices of the Pacific.
We cannot underestimate the potential of the Pacific’s stories and experiences.
The Australian Government is determined to build momentum for action on a global scale across the climate agenda.
No country can do it alone.
We have to work together build global momentum. And there are no more powerful messengers than our Pacific family.
Time and again in various UN forums, Pacific leaders have so clearly and authentically articulated the urgency of the task ahead of us.
A Pacific COP offers the chance to put the voices of the Pacific centre stage.
Australia is listening. I am confident the world will listen too.