Anthony Albanese says climate change is a critical national security issue, as Australia backed a plan at the COP27 climate conference to promote “green” shipping.
As delegates attend the annual climate summit in Cairo, the prime minister said Australia had an obligation to engage with Pacific countries on climate change.
“Climate change is a national security issue. That is something that is recognised by the United States, it’s something that’s recognised by our other partners, and indeed, our allies,” he told parliament on Tuesday.
“What we won’t be doing … is trying to score a cheap domestic political point, and at the same time actually set back our international relations.”
Talks at COP27 have also centred on whether poorer countries should be compensated for damage linked to climate change.
The coalition had previously ruled out signing up to such a measure, and the government ducked the opposition’s challenge to take the same position in parliament on Tuesday.
The comments come as Australia signed up for the Green Shipping Challenge at COP27 after being invited to join by US President Joe Biden at a forum in June.
More than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are released each year by seaborne ships, which rely on low-grade bunker fuel.
Mr Albanese said it was important to act on climate change given the past eight years had been the warmest on record.
“We can look here at the increased number of extreme weather events and the increase in the severity of them,” he said.
“We enshrined in law net zero by 2050, and we are investing in renewable energy. Climate change is a challenge for our generation.”
Meanwhile, Australia has become a member of a new international partnership on forest-based initiatives to help combat climate change.
The partnership, led by the UK, was launched at the summit, and will focus on stepping up efforts to halt the loss of forest land and degradation.
Other countries to be part of the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership will include the US, South Korea, Canada and Norway.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said the government would work with industry to help decarbonise the economy.
“Our forests will play a crucial role in this transition,” he said in a statement.
“By joining this partnership, we will maintain the momentum of global action on climate change as we work to reduce our emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050.”
Australian mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest called for long-term thinking when addressing spiralling gas and power prices, saying only planning for the future could prevent entrenching current energy settings further.
“If you aren’t thinking of your company beyond fossil fuels, there’s two reasons only for that – you’re lazy, or you have a vested interest to keep polluting the planet,” he told the ABC.
“I’m on the front foot here, giving fossil fuel companies a hard time. They should be using their super profits now to be going green, to be giving their consumers energy that doesn’t cook the planet.”
Mr Forrest has signed a joint agreement with Kenya to eliminate fossil fuels and instead harness the huge geothermal energy available in the African nation.
Andrew Brown and Alex Mitchell
(Australian Associated Press)