Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, said Australia will continue using carbon credits. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)
The Australian government has flatly rejected calls from Pacific countries to stop using carryover credits to meet emissions reductions targets.
- Australia says it’s “done more than other countries” to reduce emissions
- Carryover credits let Australia count past reductions towards future targets
- Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing
More than half a dozen Pacific leaders are seeking an end to the policy that sees Australia count emissions reductions from the past towards future targets.
But the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, has dismissed the call, which was a central part of the Nadi Bay Declaration signed by Pacific leaders in Fiji earlier this week.
“Yes, we are going to use carryover credits,” he said.
“We’ve done more than other countries have in reducing emissions and I think that should be recognised.”
The Declaration was signed by members of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, a group of smaller Pacific countries and representatives from the non-government and private sectors.
It expresses “deep concern about the lack of comprehension, ambition, or commitment shown by developed nations” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Declaration calls on countries like Australia to “refrain from using ‘carryover credits’ as an abatement,” something Australia has been widely criticised for doing.
Speaking to the ABC, Mr Hawke suggested Australia would not engage with the group behind the Declaration.
“The Pacific Islands Development Forum is not something Australia is a member of, or New Zealand or Samoa … the true way to handle this is a regional dialogue with everyone involved,” he said.
“We exceed our emissions reductions targets, we’re a good international player, we support the truly multilateral forums.
Climate change will be at the top of the agenda when Scott Morrison meets with Pacific leaders in two weeks. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)
“Do I hold it against Pacific Island countries that they want to raise climate change as an issue? Absolutely not. We respect that, we listen to it.”
The federal government’s assertions about its emissions reduction efforts have been highly contested, given Australia’s emissions are rising and without carryover credits, the country would struggle to meet its targets under the Paris Agreement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will hear the demands of Pacific nations directly in two weeks at the annual leaders meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, where climate change will be at the top of the agenda.
Wes Morgan, lecturer at the University of the South Pacific and Griffith University, believes Australia’s stance “just won’t wash with Pacific island leaders” and a stalemate is possible.
“Whether or not we’ll actually see any movement from Australia in Tuvalu or in the lead-up … remains to be seen,” he said.
“But it’s important to note that it’s not only Pacific island countries that expect Australia to actually take steps to reduce its emissions.
“Major powers like the UK and the European Union will be looking at Australia and will be raising serious questions about Australia using these carryover credits.”